Sam McGuire: Why Curtis Jones might have to look ELSEWHERE for first-team football

Under normal circumstances, Curtis Jones would probably be getting a new contract this summer. 

The Liverpool midfielder has three years left on his current deal, so there’s no real urgency to get him tied down to a long-term contract just yet, but his rise from squad player to starter would usually be enough to justify improved terms. 

However, it is unlikely the 23-year-old will be viewed as a priority in the eyes of new sporting director, Richard Hughes. 

The man handpicked by Michael Edwards to help reshape the current squad has bigger fish to fry this summer with Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold all heading into the final 12 months of their deals. He also needs to ensure Arne Slot is armed with a squad that allows him to play his style of football and give the Reds the best chance of success. 

Once he’s sorted all of that, he might focus on what to do with Ibrahima Konate

The injury-prone Frenchman is into the final two years of his deal once the current campaign comes to an end. If the Reds are going to focus on contract renewals, he’ll be more of a priority than Jones. 

And yet the Liverpool No.17 will likely feel as though he’s done enough to warrant a discussion about his future. He’s made 14 starts in the Premier League this season, the most of his career, and had it not been for injury, this figure would no doubt be much closer to 25. 

What role can Jones play under Slot?

He was a key player for the Reds once Jurgen Klopp adopted the inverted system. He was a facilitator in the middle third. His versatility meant he was the perfect foil for the likes of Luis Diaz and Andrew Robertson on the Liverpool left. His safe nature in possession complimented Trent Alexander-Arnold’s more adventurous style on the opposite flank. 

Injuries have impacted his 2023/24 season though. Per Transfermarkt, the Liverpool academy graduate has missed a total of 15 games across three separate spells on the sidelines this term. And this no doubt hurts his case for a new deal. 

He might’ve been a starter had he been available, the simple truth is he’s missed far too much football this season to be viewed as an integral part of Klopp’s starting XI. Furthermore, while the German tactician may have been a fan of his, there are no guarantees that he’ll be as involved for Arne Slot. 

If the Dutchman wants to replicate his Feyenoord set-up at Anfield, does Jones get into the XI? Slot likes to use a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. Jones isn’t creative enough to make the attacking midfielder position his own, so that likely rules him out of the No.10 role. 

Curtis Jones, Jurgen Klopp

Football - Football League Cup - Quarter-Final - Liverpool FC v West Ham United FC LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool s manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with two-goal hero Curtis Jones L after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-1. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LIVERPOOL Anfield MERSEYSIDE ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2023-12-20-Liverpool_West_Ham-80

Is he good enough to play as a defensive midfielder? He’s a very aggressive presser but to anchor a midfield, it is more to do with brains than it is brawn. Does he have the nous to be in the right place at the right time rather than just looking to be a firefighter? If not, the only real role for him will be on the left of midfield, or as part of a double pivot as a box-to-box midfielder. In many ways, this isn’t too dissimilar to the role he’s played for Klopp. 

But if reports are accurate and the Reds are in the market for a more physical defensive midfielder, that sees Alexis Mac Allister take up the left-side role. It is almost identical to the one he played for Brighton and Argentina. You would have to imagine he would be ahead of Jones in the pecking order. There’s also a world in which Slot favours Ryan Gravenberch more. 

Jones is a Liverpool supporter NOT Arsenal

Jones could find his minutes limited next season. Of course, this is all theoretical, but it is something to ponder when trying to figure out why he might not be getting the deal he wants. 

His future could well be tied to his love for the club.  

When penning a new contract in 2022, he said: “It’s my boyhood club, I’m a Scouser, I’ve supported the club for the whole of my life.” Paul Joyce of the Times made a point earlier in the season within one of his reports, saying: “Contrary to erroneous rumours that he was an Arsenal supporter growing up, his allegiance has always been Liverpool and he always pretended to be [Steven] Gerrard.”

READ MORE: Curtis Jones and Saffie Khan reveal BIG announcement

Liverpool won’t actively look to shop Jones around. He’s homegrown and a talent. So if he’s happy with a role in the new-look squad, he’ll remain here even without a new deal. However, if he wants not only a new deal but some guarantees of a role within the first team, he might need to look elsewhere to ensure his career doesn’t stagnate or stall.  

He’ll retain his value, even if he spends the season as a squad player. He has an Expected Transfer Value of €23.6million, down on his highest xTV of €30.5million. That won’t change much, even without regular minutes, purely due to his age, the fact he’s homegrown and his unique profile. 

The Reds don’t yet have a decision to make on Jones but that could all change this summer if he indicates he’s open to moving.  

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