Curtis Jones says he’s had to change his position on the pitch since joining Liverpool’s first-team. We’d argue it’s working like a charm.
Curtis Jones admits he’s a different player to the one who shone in Liverpool’s youth teams. First-team football has come with extra responsibilities and discipline.
“I’m definitely more disciplined,” said Jones, per the Liverpool Echo. “I just don’t go mad and run off with the ball and try to shoot and score now.
“I’m playing at 8 or 10 and the aim of that is for me to get into the box, be more like a box-to-box type of midfielder.
“The way we play, the 8 and the 10 try to score goals and assist goals, but at the same time you have to go and press and pick up on second balls. That’s the other side of the game.”
So what kind of player has Jones become? And is it working?
Curtis Jones position shift
Jones had a reputation as an attack-first player when breaking through. He regularly played on the left-wing at youth level, for instance, and he announced himself at Anfield with a 25-yard strike.
Now, that attacking instinct hasn’t gone away – in fact, Liverpool appear to want it. With Diogo Jota playing as a centre-forward, the midfielders have more of a license to link with the attack.
And that leads to Jones being in and around the box more than, say, Gini Wijnaldum was. Across his starts against Brentford and FC Porto, the 20-year-old has eight shots.
He’s had five key passes across his last three starts, too, and Jones is undoubtedly one of the more threatening midfielders Liverpool have had in some time.
But he’s also showing that discipline he talks about. For instance, Jones is averaging twice as many tackles this season compared to last – though, it’s a small sample size for 21/22.
That discipline is perhaps best seen in his passing, however. Jones keeps the ball remarkably well for a young player and actually had the sixth-best pass completion in the Premier League last season.
Notably, only two midfielders were above him on that list and none of the five players who beat him had any assists. Jones picked up two. And he’s doing much the same this time around, too. Jones currently has the eight-best pass completion and we’d expect him to rise in those rankings.
Liverpool may have only subtly changed Jones’s position but it’s working wonders. The Reds are now finding they have a tactically-aware 20-year-old who can help control a game, while also threatening teams in and around the box.
We’re huge fans of Jones – as we’ve said many times before. This change in his discipline is one of the reasons why. Liverpool have a special one here.