Curtis Jones now faces an important 2022/23 season after he went a little bit backwards last time. The Scouser has the tools to do it all.
We saw plenty to be excited about when it came to Curtis Jones ahead of last season. He was coming off a campaign that saw him breakout into a squad role and the signs were good.
In fact, they were superb. Certain data metrics had Jones down as a true star in the making and what he did with the ball was beyond his years. Now that Liverpool had their first-team squad back together, it was a sure thing that the midfielder would kick on another level.
Unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen. Jones struggled for fitness at times, though the early signs were very good. His performance against FC Porto back in September was outstanding.
But that remained the highlight of Jones’s season as he sat on the fringes for most of it. That’s reflected in a decline in his stats, too.
Passing shows it well. Jones went from averaging 74 passes per 90 to 62 and saw a drop of around a third in passes into the final third, into the penalty area, and ‘progressive’ passes (that move the team forward 10 yards). Interestingly, he averaged the same number of key passes (passes that then lead to a shot) but everything else dropped.
More worryingly, Jones carried the ball with less effectiveness, too. This was his standout skill in 2020/21 but it really dropped off last year.
He ran with the ball around 10 times less per 90 than he had done. There were then drops in progressive carries, carries in the final third and carries into the penalty area. Then we saw increases in the number of miss-controls and disposessions.
Curtis Jones faces huge 2022/23
That latter category – carrying the ball – is the notable one here. Jones was exceptional at it the year before and the only young players who matched him per 90 were Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. In terms of carrying the ball through midfield, only Thiago did it better at Liverpool.
And it’s not as though Jones has just completely declined. He boasted the best passing percentage at Liverpool last season and increased the amount he presses while maintaining the same success rate. Jones also improved his success rate with dribbling.
It just feels that Jones did things less, rather than worse. He wasn’t moving the ball forward as often as he had, took fewer chances and rarely grabbed games.
Perhaps that was a result of the team being back together last year – Jones felt less responsibility with the ball. We hope that’s the reason, certainly, as Liverpool can snap him out of that over pre-season.
Because Jones is a player with ‘incredible potential’, says Jurgen Klopp. We see that potential, too, and next year is the right year for him to truly show it.
We expect a bigger year for attacking midfielders at Liverpool, with Jones right in the middle of that. Times for him to show exactly how good he truly is.