With no new contract agreed, it is looking increasingly likely that Georginio Wijnaldum will leave Liverpool in the summer, with foreign clubs able to negotiate with the Dutch international from January. Fortunately for the Merseyside club, they look to have a ready-made replacement for the former Newcastle man in Curtis Jones.
The academy graduate has established himself as a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s side so far this season, having made 10 appearances in the Premier League, averaging a solid 6.68 rating. He has also appeared four times in the Champions League for the Merseyside club, in which he has averaged a superb 7.33 rating.
The 19-year-old has three goals to his name this season, which takes his tally to six goals in 30 first-team appearances for the club.
Klopp is certainly a fan of the academy graduate too, having been full of praise for the youngster earlier this season after his two goals against Lincoln City in the League Cup, saying:
“There is still space for improvement but everyone knows my opinion of Curtis Jones, he is an exceptional talent and we will have some fun with him I am pretty sure in the future.
Whilst Wijnaldum has been a hugely important part of Liverpool’s success in recent seasons, he has never been a prolific goalscorer with the Reds, with just 20 goals to his name in the 208 appearances he has made for the club thus far.
Therefore, from a goalscoring perspective, it certainly seems as if Jones can replace, and even surpass, the numbers Wijnaldum has contributed if the 30-year-old does end up departing when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Of course, playing in midfield is not just about the ability to score goals, as Wijnaldum is also an excellent passer of the ball, whilst his defensive contribution has also been impressive since joining, with the Dutchman having completed an impressive 1045 recoveries during his time in the Premier League with the Reds.
This season has seen the Dutch midfielder average 48.8 passes in each game in the top-flight, resulting in a pass success rate of 92.3%.
Jones, meanwhile, has averaged 58.1 passes per game in the Premier League, with a success rate of 92.9%, which again gives him the edge, and suggests that he is more than capable of stepping up to replace Wijnaldum.
Whilst the 19-year-old is perhaps seen as more of a creative attacking midfielder, he has impressed with his tackling at times this season, averaging 1.1 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game, whilst the 30-year-old has averaged 0.8 tackles and 0.9 interceptions.
Therefore, it can definitely be argued that Jones can be Klopp’s replacement for Wijnaldum in midfield, and if he continues to improve, there seems no reason why he can’t surpass the Dutch international’s legacy with the Merseyside club.