Liverpool’s Academy has had plenty to smile about in the opening few weeks of the season, but no player has progressed further at senior level than Curtis Jones.
Caoimhin Kelleher was last night added to a list that already included Williams’ Neco and Rhys, while Jake Cain, Leighton Clarkson and Vitezslav Jaros were all on the bench, and the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold has long surpassed that status.
Any one of the other names could make a similar leap in the next year or so, but Jones is now rightly and firmly considered a first-team player.
His strength still lies in his ability to get forward, but to be a Klopp midfielder requires more than one skill.
“He is pretty unique and every time I watch him, I think he has something really quite special,” said Owen Hargreaves, on BT Sport’s Champions League highlights show.
“He almost scored early in the game and I think he will get goals. He plays with a certain arrogance and confidence which I think you need – it’s healthy.
“The one thing he does really well is arrive in the box at great moments.
“[The shot that hit the post in the first half] reminds me of Steven Gerrard – he used to hit everything so hard. He almost hits it too perfectly but I love that about him – he is always there in those right places.
“[The goal] sums him up, and I love the ball in from Neco Williams, by the way. The right foot is not on so he puts it into a position with his left.
“Jones’ finish and the way he guides it in… honestly, that is class. That is a class player and for a 19-year-old to finish like that sums him up, because he has something quite unique.”
A similar sentiment was echoed on the Post-Game podcast after Liverpool topped Group D with their win over Ajax.
“Massive credit must go to Curtis Jones,” said Mark Baker.
“I think he is a real player and what a difficult finish – to be able to take that first-time on the outside of his right boot cannot be underestimated.
“He sniffs out opportunities and he is always a goal threat. The question was always whether he could adapt and fit into Klopp’s three-man midfield system, but he has and is acting as an experienced pro.”