Curtis Jones has the exact skill Liverpool need to replace Gini Wijnaldum this summer. The Dutchman departs for Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract.
Gini Wijnaldum leaves Liverpool at the end of this month. His contract isn’t only up but he’s agreed a new one – he’ll join PSG for next season.
That does create a problem for the Reds. Wijnaldum has been a key part of their midfield over the last five years. Very successful years, too.
Last season, in particular, saw Wijnaldum play a vital role. He was the only midfield option who didn’t face an extended period out injured. His consistency helped keep the team solid during a difficult time.
That problem should fix itself next season, of course. Players will return and the big miss will be Wijnaldum’s skillset.
And that’s a strange one. Wijnaldum has always shone through his ability to do a bit of everything. Jurgen Klopp could use him in a midfield three knowing full well the Dutchman would adapt to whatever game situation came about.
Wijnaldum can attack well, he can defend well, and he’s magnificent in possession. In fact, the latter is his standout skill.
He’s quite incredible at maintaining possession. Wijnaldum maintained a 92.7% pass completion last season – the fifth best in the Premier League.
But that only tells half the story. Three of the four players above him are defenders. They face far less pressure on the ball and usually have more options.
The only midfielder above him, Mohamed Elneny, is a holding player. Again, he doesn’t face the same pressure.
Wijnaldum is frequently in advanced areas, so keeping that percentage over 92% is extraordinary. He combines that with only being tackled 0.7 times per game – again, an elite number for a midfielder.
So how do Liverpool replace that? Well, they might already have the player.
Jones to follow Wijnaldum
The Telegraph claims Liverpool could back Curtis Jones to replace Wijnaldum going forward. They’ll give him more games and hope he continues to develop.
We’ve written before that this is a good idea. But we wanted to hone in on just how well this could work.
As we say, Wijnaldum’s ability to keep the ball is his standout skill. Fifth-best in the Premier League is quite incredible from a midfielder.
Sixth-best? Curtis Jones. He averages a 92.2% pass completion and actually does it in an even more advanced role than Wijnaldum. That’s quite unbelievable from a young player in his first full season.
Now, he does get tackled more often at 1.3 times per game but the real point here is that Jones is only 20. He’s going to improve a lot and fast – he’ll be better in a year.
Jones really might be the best possible replacement for Wijnaldum. Even the defensive work he does well, averaging more tackles and interceptions per game than the Dutchman.
Jones might seem like the cheap option this summer, given he’s already at the club. But quite honestly, we don’t think Liverpool can sign someone more ideal, given Jones already knows the club inside out.
The Scouser is a star in waiting.