The weekend of July 4-5 2020 is one which Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones will not forget in a hurry.
On Saturday the 19-year-old starlet put pen to paper on a new five-year deal with the club he has been at since the age of nine, declaring: “It’s my boyhood club and it’s the whole of my family’s club as well, so for me it’s huge.”
And just in case that wasn’t enough, Jones put the icing on top of the cake by scoring his first ever Premier League goal in the Reds’ 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday with a smart 89th minute volley.
We could see a lot more of the young talent in Liverpool’s final five games of the campaign – despite club legend John Barnes’ warning last month that he is not yet ready to break into the first-team.
Jones has been knocking on the door for some time, making a number of appearances in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup this season, yet his cameo against Villa was just his third showing in the Premier League all season.
And when speaking to BonusCodeBets in June, Barnes stated his opinion that the likes of Jones and other academy prospects such as Ki-Jana Hoever and Harvey Elliott were not up the standard of some of the talent from the past.
“I don’t think there are any young players ready to play in the first team,” Barnes said.
” Liverpool will be quiet in the transfer market. But they’ll rely on the senior players that they have. There are a few young players who we see playing in the cup matches and, in the squads.
“But there aren’t necessarily any Raheem Sterlings, or young Robbie Fowlers or Steven Gerrards.
“I don’t want to put them under pressure. So, while I expect Liverpool to be quiet in the transfer market – you’ve got the young boy, Curtis Jones, who obviously has made an impression in the first team every now and again.
“In terms of him forcing his way into the team ahead of the more senior players, I don’t think that that’s necessarily going to happen.”
While Barnes may be correct that Jones is not yet an established first-team player, the fact he has signed a new deal and came off the bench against Villa ahead of the likes of Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri suggests that manager Jurgen Klopp sees him very much as a part of his plans going forward.
And while competition for places is tough, Jones is currently doing everything he can to be in contention, and the fact he was able to make such an impact on Sunday despite only being given five minutes is a testament to his talent.
He still has a long way to go, but Barnes may well be left eating his words if Jones can continue to build on these impressive showings.