When Curtis Jones scored in Liverpool’s victory over Sheffield United, he could have been forgiven for adopting a celebratory tone in his post-match interview.
But his immediate thoughts were not about helping his team end their four-game losing run. Instead, he said his thoughts were with team-mate Alisson following the death of the Brazil goalkeeper’s father.
It was the latest example of the growing maturity of 20-year-old Jones, who has developed into one of Liverpool’s senior players during a season in which Jurgen Klopp’s squad has been crippled by injuries.
While the loss of centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez dealt a heavy blow to the Reds’ title defence, Jones was given an opportunity to shine in midfield when regulars Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were forced to provide cover at the back.
Ex-Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock says Jones has “showcased what he can do”, while former Under-23s assistant boss Gary O’Neil – recently departed for Bournemouth – believes he has “no real weaknesses in his game” and can go all the way to the top, following in the footsteps of club legend Steven Gerrard.
But what makes Liverpool-born Jones so special? How has he developed? And what is he like off the pitch?