Curtis Jones coming up with important goals. It’s becoming a theme.
His winning penalty against Arsenal, his screamer against Everton, his decisive strike against Aston Villa, his winner against Ajax, and now an instinctive finish against Sheffield United that got Liverpool on their way to a desperately needed victory.
Is now a good time to point out that he is still some way short of his 50th senior appearance?
Liverpool fans don’t need any encouragement to get excited about Jones, but if there were any lingering doubts about the 20-year-old’s road to stardom, it’s time to let them go.
Graeme Souness put it well after Liverpool’s win at Bramall Lane when he said that there are only two things that can stop him now: an ego or an injury.
The first part of that equation we can already rule out. His humility is clear to see whenever he speaks to the press: within 15 seconds of his post-match interview against Sheffield United, he had pointed the spotlight away from himself and dedicated his goal to Jose Agostinho Becker, the late father of absent keeper Alisson.
Yet his humble, softly spoken personality stops at the white line. Despite being the youngest player in the Liverpool team, he plays with an arrogance that suggests he’s been there for years, taking players on and demanding the ball from his team-mates in situations that he has little right to receive it.
Jurgen Klopp said after the win in Sheffield that there is so much more to come from the Reds’ latest prodigy, and that is quite a frightening thought. He already has the mentality and maturity of a player in his prime, and that is reflected both in his play and his creative numbers.
Seven goals and five assists in his first 42 appearances might not scream ‘world class’ but only because we live in the age of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland and their bar-raising standards.
Compare Jones with Steven Gerrard, who had managed just a single goal at the same stage in his Liverpool career, and the weight of his impact becomes clear to see.
It normally takes a young player to the 50-game mark to test the water, but Jones will surpass that milestone with a clearly defined role in the side. While the shape of the team may change in the months ahead, with talk rife of a transformative summer, any rebuilding will be done around Jones and the unique attributes he brings to the table.
His influence so far has been greater than anyone could have reasonable expected. He’s had a faster start to life at Anfield than any academy graduate since Robbie Fowler, and has been making his presence felt for too long now to define him as a flash in the pan.
At this inceptual early stage in his career, Jones is already the man for the big occasion. So what else does he have in his locker?
No idea, but we can’t wait to find out.