Liverpool could copy rivals to give Jurgen Klopp the transfers he wants
Jurgen Klopp wanted Liverpool to create their transfers internally and the Reds have shown they have the personnel ready to step up
It was perhaps mildly symbolic no supporters were inside Anfield to witness Curtis Jones take the next significant step in his burgeoning Liverpool career.
The Reds boss raised eyebrows last week when, while discussing possible business in the forthcoming window, he declared: “We want to create our transfers internally.”
Klopp wasn’t completely dismissing the prospect of any new arrivals. But having declined the opportunity to challenge for Timo Werner’s signature due to the ongoing financial uncertainty in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the inference was clear.
Strength, or at least some of it, will have to come from within.
Jones is at the vanguard of that movement, touted as a potential first-team regular even before impressing Klopp when featuring as a 17-year-old on the US tour two years ago.
Now 19, he celebrated penning a five-year deal over the weekend with a first Premier League goal on his debut Anfield top-flight outing just minutes after emerging from the bench to seal Sunday’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.138212091369
Jones isn’t one for hanging around. Already in nine senior appearances he has three goals and an assist, highlights being a memorable FA Cup derby winner and converting the decisive penalty in the League Cup triumph over Arsenal.
“Curtis’ biggest strength is that he has his own mind,” said Liverpool Academy chief Alex Inglethorpe earlier this year. “He is very single-minded and driven and given the way he wants to play the game that is important.
“There is no question that Curtis has flair and is exciting and is someone that you would want to see and watch play.
“That has to marry up with the demands of the senior game and what the first team wants and what the senior players demand of you.
“Curtis has to find a way into the team. I believe he can do that. I have faith that given time he is capable of getting in, but it is going to be down to Curtis to prove that he is good enough to stay in.”
While Klopp has never been shy of giving youth an opportunity, only Trent Alexander-Arnold has made a permanent step from Academy to first team.
But rather than be seen as a negative, it underlines why such encouragement should be taken from the emergence of Jones.
He hasn’t looked out of place whether in central midfield or the left flank, similar to right-back Neco Williams when called upon. And there is the same confidence in winger Harvey Elliott, who signed his first professional deal on Monday.
Early days, of course. However, all three continue to realise the gradually growing expectations placed upon them, carefully managed not only by Klopp but his coaching staff and those at the Academy, not least elite development coach Vitor Matos.
As the saying goes, if they’re good enough then they’re old enough. Just ask some of Liverpool’s rivals, who have also turned to youth.
Phil Foden was outstanding against the Reds last week for Manchester City, while Arsenal have high hopes for Bukayo Saka.
Mason Greenwood and Brandon Wiliams have followed Marcus Rashford into the first team at Manchester United, and Chelsea are now seeing the benefit of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham having had loan spells elsewhere last season – a path Rhian Brewster will be hoping to follow as he continues to find the target at Swansea City.
Not all are influential cogs in their respective teams, at least not yet. But they don’t have to be, given the more established talent that remains around them in each squad.
But they offer options and some required fresh faces, with Liverpool’s needs no different. And given the Reds’ status of European, world and English champions, that Jones, Williams and Elliott are even being given minutes underlines how highly they are considered by Klopp.
Liverpool know internal transfers alone are not the answer long-term. But to dismiss their value is to belittle the investment – in terms of time, talent and finance – that remains ongoing at the Academy.
Not all new first-team players require a mammoth price tag and an interminable transfer saga.