Liverpool’s 17-year-old attacking midfielder Curtis Jones has impressed so far this summer in the Reds’ preseason games and fans of the Merseyside club will be hoping that he can follow in the footsteps of fellow Scouser Trent Alexander-Arnold by breaking into the first team this season.
At just 19 years old, fellow academy graduate Alexander-Arnold made 34 appearances last season and started at right-back in the Champions League final as he took his chance to cement a place in the team following Nathaniel Clyne’s injury problems.
Jones will have a number of players ahead of him in the pecking order as Liverpool have spent big this summer in an attempt to challenge Manchester City at the top of the table. However, Jurgen Klopp’s use of Alexander-Arnold will be a huge encouragement to all the academy players at the club at the moment.
Having netted a seriously impressive 19 goals and provided seven assists across the U18 Premier League, FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League last season, the talented youngster was offered a professional contract in February and then was picked to join the first team on their preseason tour of the United States this summer.
In Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 formation Jones can play in the midfield three, which is where he started the International Champions Cup game against Dortmund, or on either side of the main striker as he did against City in the same competition during Liverpool’s 2-1 win over the Premier League champions.
While playing on the left-hand side, Jones drifted in and caused problems for the City defence. He also showed that he is not afraid to try his luck from distance, proving he has the confidence in his ability that is needed to make it at the top level.
With many of Liverpool’s youngsters heading out on loan this summer, particularly to Steven Gerrard’s Rangers revolution, Jones will be hoping he has done enough to convince Klopp that he should be kept at the club this season despite his young age.
If he is to stay at Anfield, the one playerthat the youngster should look to learn from is Adam Lallana. With his ability to play in both attacking and midfield positions and his knack for finding space where there shouldn’t be any, Lallana is the perfect role model on the pitch for the England U17 international.
It’s clear already that Jones has the talent to succeed in the game but he must ensure that if he does stay at Anfield that he is pushing for a starting berth in at least the U23’s side. He should look to Ben Woodburn as an example of a youngster who has burst onto the scene with so much hype surrounding such a young player, which can lead to a difficult period when it goes a little cold.
With similar, creative players such as Phil Foden at Manchester City and Mason Mount at Chelsea (currently on loan at Derby) though, the future looks bright for England’s national side and the Premier League.