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Liverpool already has Roberto Firmino wildcard replacement that could prove Jürgen Klopp right

Liverpool are already on the lookout for the successor to Roberto Firmino, but they don’t have to look far after a goal showed Jürgen Klopp got a key move right.


One of Liverpool’s biggest dilemmas this summer will be finding the right successor for Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian is set to leave Anfield at the end of the season, and having almost re-defined the false nine role, it isn’t yet clear who will take his place.


There are signs this season that Jürgen Klopp has looked to begin developing Cody Gakpo in that position, but with the Netherlands international much less experienced, it will inevitably take time before the Reds have a replacement for their number nine.


But there is another option that Liverpool has at its disposal — with a player that Klopp signed to a new long-term deal earlier this season.

Curtis Jones is yet to find his long-term position at the club, though that has often been through no fault of his own. The England U21 star has been incorporated into the side amid the most successful spell in Premier League history, and there have been some performances to suggest he has a role to play.

Still just 22 years old, Jones scored the third goal of a 4-0 win on Saturday as England U21s defeated a France U21 side that Ibrahima Konaté previously starred for — a sign that he is making progress amid Klopp’s vision and yet another glimpse of how Jones often saves his best displays for against European opposition.


Throughout his time as a senior at Liverpool, there are few games that stand out more than his displays against Leipzig and Porto in 2021. But it is in the Premier League where fans have been left wanting a little bit more. Injuries this season have seen him start just once in the league, with his six other appearances all coming from the bench.


As with any young player, and clear with the development of Harvey Elliott, game-time is vital for development — even if that comes via a loan spell away from the club. Jones was trusted in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Napoli last November, in a performance on the forward line that saw him perform well against one of the best sides in Europe this season. So why can’t he feature more regularly in domestic competitions?


With Firmino set to leave, Jones could begin to be used in his more natural attacking role. The acquisitions of Darwin Núñez and Gakpo are likely to see Liverpool deploy a 4-2-3-1 system once Luis Díaz returns to action, with Klopp looking for ways to have his best attackers on the pitch at the same time.


While Jones may be behind Gakpo in terms of starting minutes from the 10, there should be a significant improvement on the 291 minutes he has played across all competitions for Liverpool this season — just 3.23 matches worth of football.

A more natural attacking player, there could still yet be time for Jones to excel when playing in a deeper role, but Liverpool should first identify whether he can fit the system in attacking areas. He has demonstrated glimpses so far, but should he ignore the pressure from outside demanding more from a player his age, there is a chance that Firmino’s exit will further unlock the potential that he displayed in the academy — proving Klopp’s decision to sign Jones to a new five-year extension in November right.


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