Liverpool let cat out of the bag as "massive talent" added to first-team picture

When he scored *that* goal against Everton in the FA Cup he was still a promising youngster.

When he captained Liverpool against Shrewsbury in the next round it was mainly seen as a nice thing to do.

And when he came on as a substitute for Naby Keita in the 5-3 win over Chelsea in July, thereby ensuring he could officially obtain a Premier League winners' medal later that same evening, it was still seen as though Jurgen Klopp was doing something nice for one of his young charges.

But there's no need to treat Curtis Jones with kid gloves any more.

The 19-year-old Scouser has now well and truly arrived in the Liverpool first-team picture, and his moment of the season probably wasn't even his brace at Lincoln on Thursday night.

Nope, that surely arrived 12 days earlier when Klopp threw him into the hustle and bustle of the topsy-turvy Premier League game against Leeds United as the Reds led 3-2.

With Jordan Henderson still working his way back to full fitness, and the ever-reliable figure of James Milner on the bench, surely the safe substitution to make was to bring on the redoubtable veteran for a reunion with Leeds that could be described as 'emotional' were it not involving hardened folk from Yorkshire.

But Klopp went for Jones.

And then Leeds scored immediately.

Not to worry though. The teenager grew into the game and was an important figure as the Reds drove Leeds further and further towards their own penalty area, where Rodrigo fouled Fabinho for Mo Salah to score the winner from the spot.

Jones didn't make any headlines after the match because the Egyptian did, obviously, but the seamless way with which he slotted into the team showed just why he is rated so highly by those at Anfield.

His switch of squad number from 48 to 17 – one of Steven Gerrard's old numbers – makes him look like more of a first-team player from the back, and the fact that he's clearly bulked up a bit of late means that you can say the same from the front too.

He's no longer a secret, basically, as he was to many back in 2018 when he was just one of a number of promising English kids to be targeted by German clubs.

“I know that they don’t (want to loan him out), because I was asking Jurgen about Curtis two years ago, if they would send him to Leipzig on loan for a year or two, and he said no," former RB Leipzig manager and director of football Ralf Rangnick told Sky Sports on Friday.

“Jurgen wants to keep him. I think he knows what kind of massive talent he has with Curtis in his squad.

“He’s one of the most exciting young players in England, currently."

You can't argue with that.

Jones has been in terrific form at the start of the season, and with this campaign giving him plenty of opportunities to impress across all competitions, his is a quality that Liverpool are more than likely to keep calling on.

Transfer-starved Reds fans no longer have to look for the 'like a new signing' players any more given the excitement of the past week, but Jones – the cocky, cool, confident talent – is certainly worth getting excited about.

He's a first-team player now.

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