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Analysis: Liverpool right to back Curtis Jones as their Wijnaldum replacement

Liverpool will put their faith in Curtis Jones to play an even bigger part across the 2021/22 season, according to reports. The Scouser must be impressing.

This comes from the Telegraph. They claim Liverpool have ‘high hopes’ that Curtis Jones kicks on further in 2021/22.

In fact, those hopes are so high that the Reds may pass on signing anyone to replace Gini Wijnaldum. The Dutchman’s contract expires in June and won’t be signing a new one.

That will leave a big gap in the Liverpool squad but one that they evidently believe can be filled from within. Jones would play a big part of that.

After all, if anyone is going to improve next season, it’s the young Scouser.

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Curtis Jones in 2021/22

Jones took enormous strides this season, largely thanks to the club’s injury crisis. With Fabinho in defence and Thiago out injured, there was always a midfield spot open. Jones found himself filling it more often than not, particularly before the turn of the year.

And he was brilliant. We wrote a few months ago on just how good Jones is – he appears capable of becoming an elite midfielder.

His possession stats suggest as much. We’ll have a quick look at how he holds up in the Premier League for players with over 900 minutes this season (the equivalent of 10 games).

Jones if fifth in the Premier League for moving with the ball per game. Only Mateo Kovacic, Jordan Henderson, Rodri and Kyle Walker do it more often. What’s interesting, though, is how Jones does it.

All four of those players are more defensive than the the youngster – they’re moving the ball in deeper areas.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

For progressive carries – moving the ball at least five yards towards the opposition goal – Jones is sixth. For moving it into the final third, he’s fifth. Only Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, Harvey Barnes and Kevin De Bruyne are above him.

Jones passes the ball into the final third like an elite player, too, sitting eighth in the league for that one.

Jones is keeping up with the league’s best already, despite this being his first full senior season. He only turned 20 in January, in fact. You certainly can’t blame Liverpool for putting faith in him.

Because if he does kick on further next season, Jones could well top certain stats like this. He’s turning into a magnificent attacking midfielder – someone who gets on the ball and finds a way to move the team forward.

He can do it with running, he can do it with passing – either way, Jones is a gem. And Liverpool could do a lot worse than backing him next season.

All stats per FBref/StatsBomb

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