Liverpool already have Gini Wijnaldum's perfect replacement

Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones in action

What a difference a year can make.

This time last year, Liverpool were cruising to their first league title in 30 years, and appeared to have assembled one of the most formidable squads in Europe.

This season, things have gone disastrously wrong. The side have slipped down the table, and face a tough task to make the top four in the final weeks of the campaign.

It appears that the team needs to be freshened up this summer, and it already seems that one senior figure will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

Georginio Wijnaldum's contract expires in June and while he admitted earlier this week that he'd be devastated to leave Anfield, he also confirmed that there's no update to give on his future.

Do Liverpool need to dip into the transfer market to replace him? Simply put, no. They already have someone waiting in the wings to fulfil his role long-term - Curtis Jones.

Heading into this season, Jones had only made six top-flight appearances. He has added 20 more to that total this term, and looked right at home. 

Manager Jurgen Klopp knew about Jones' potential almost immediately. As reported by the Daily Mail back in September, the German coach said: "There is still space for improvement but everyone knows my opinion of Curtis Jones, he is an exceptional talent and we will have some fun with him I am pretty sure in the future."

In an underwhelming year for the Reds, Jones has been one of their shining lights. Slotting into the side's midfield, his use of the ball has been exemplary.

Indeed, his passing success rate of 92.6% puts him at the top of the particular category for the club. When comparing that number with Wijnaldum, the Dutchman is just below the youngster at 92.2%.

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Whose career is this?

Jones also holds the edge in terms of interceptions, making 1.5 per game to Wijnaldum's 0.8, and successful dribbles - Jones has completed 1.1 per game, with Wijnaldum down at 0.9.

Since arriving on Merseyside in 2016, Wijnaldum has been a reliable member of a squad that has dazzled domestically and in Europe.

But now it is time to look to the future. At 20, Jones still has time to mature, and will only improve alongside experienced professionals such as Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.

Clearly there's work to be done on Liverpool's squad after their disastrous run of recent results, and replacing a player of Wijnaldum's calibre would usually require a small fortune. 

Jones' emergence negates that cost, however, allowing Klopp to focus his funds on recruiting in attack and defence instead. 

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