Curtis Jones has hailed the influence of two team-mates and three staff members among those shaping him in the “absolutely perfect” breeding ground at Liverpool.
Less than a year ago, it seemed uncertain as to whether Jones was going to establish himself in Jurgen Klopp‘s first team or follow the countless other hotly tipped youngsters to fall short.
After being cut from the pre-season squad for the training camp in Evian last July, having also missed the friendly loss to Napoli, there was concern that he would instead languish in the under-23s.
But it has proved a breakout campaign for Jones who, along with scoring 17 goals and laying on 10 assists in 20 games wearing the captain’s armband for the academy, has settled as a staple of the senior side.
So far he has made the matchday squad on 18 occasions, starting five games and coming off the bench in three more, including a memorable run in the FA Cup.
And speaking to Liverpool’s official website on the return to training this week, Jones described the club as “perfect” for him as he aims for the top.
“I don’t think I’d be as successful under a different type of manager and a different team,” he said.
“With his staff, I think for me to be the player that I want to become and I see myself becoming, I think Jurgen, Pep, Pete and the rest of the staff are the perfect ones for me.
“In terms of the belief they have in me, in terms of their philosophy, how they play and even their aims and their goals.
“They want to win so much to make the fans and the people of Liverpool so happy. For me it’s also the same because I come from that, so I understand, so for me it’s absolutely perfect.”
Along with Klopp, Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz, Jones name-checked both James Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold as role models for him as he settles in the first-team squad.
“I’ve always said that Milner has been a massive one for me,” he continued.
“I first went on the pre-season tour when I was 17 and he was always one that I guess he knew the ability that I had, but other things needed work in terms of the defensive part of my game, positioning and how to react when giving away the ball.
“He’s always guided me in the right path so I’m grateful for that.
“Another one that’s big for me is Trent. He’s basically similar to me in he is a local lad, he comes from a normal background and he’s had to work hard to get into the position that he’s in now.
“We are from the same city and we have the same type of goal in terms of we want to play for this club and we want to achieve stuff to give back to the fans, so Trent is also a big one for me.”
The frequency with which the club’s young players—including Jones, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams—highlight Milner as a major influence is a testament to the character and quality of the vice-captain.
But Alexander-Arnold is also setting a big example for their likes, having come through the same channels as they have to take a first-choice role in the side.
It is difficult to argue with Jones in his assertion that Liverpool is perfect for him, as he has the right people and the right facilities around him to maximise the tools that he already has to become a regular at Anfield.