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Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s rise to prominence at Liverpool has seen him gravitate to the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s long-term thinking, writes Martyn Cooke.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool are truly a multi-national football club. The Reds are owned by Americans, have a German manager and have a first team squad that is made up of players from 14 countries across four continents.

However, whilst the likes of Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Roberto Firmino (Brazil) and Virgil Van Dijk (Holland) have been the focus of most of the headlines so far this season, it is a young Liverpudlian who has quietly emerged as one of the most promising players at the club.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the perfect example of a ‘local boy come good’.

The 19-year-old grew up in West Derby, just minutes away from Liverpool’s training complex at Melwood where as a child he would attempt to catch a glimpse of first-team players by looking through a hole in the wall, and he distinctly remembers the open-top bus parade that passed by his house after the club won the Champions League in 2005.

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (L) hugs Liverpool’s English midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold at the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 24, 2018. (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The full-back has experienced a dramatic rise to prominence in the last eighteen months. Just two years ago he was little more than a talented youngster in Liverpool’s academy, a player with potential but no guarantee of breaking into the first team, but now he has cemented a spot at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans.

The 19-year-old has been a regular feature at right-back this season where, in the absence of the injured Nathaniel Clyne, he has shared the role with fellow youngster Joe Gomez.

However, in recent weeks Alexander Arnold has made the position his own and he has started all five of Liverpool’s fixtures across all competitions as he continues to improve, develop and impress.

He has made a total of 32 appearances since making his debut last season against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup, 20 of which have come during this campaign.

The full-back has certainly not been a bit-part player and Klopp’s faith in the youngster has been demonstrated by his consistent inclusion in the club’s Champions League run, including the five-goal victory against Porto in the first knock-out round.

Indeed, it was in the Champions League that he scored the first of his three career goals with a spectacular free-kick against Hoffenheim.

Alexander-Arnold’s strength lies in his dynamic play. The full-back possesses the pace, endurance and technical ability to continuously make forward runs into the opposition half to create an overload on the right side of the pitch. His sheer energy, enthusiasm and raw speed make him a difficult player to restrict or combat.

Liverpool’s Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane (R) celebrates with Liverpool’s English midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold (C) after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Liverpool at Turf Moor in Burnley, north-west England on January 1, 2018. (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Of course, the 19-year-old’s game is far from perfect. There are still question marks over his defensive ability and decision making in the final third, but there is little doubt that time is on his side and he is improving with every game that he plays. His performances have certainly been impressive in recent week.

Such has been his dramatic rise to prominence, Alexander-Arnold is now being cited as having an outside chance of being involved with the senior England national team ahead of the World Cup in the summer.

He has represented his country at every age group from under-16’s to under-23’s and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has claimed that the youngster ‘is going to be an England fullback’.

The World Cup might come too soon for the 19-year-old, but there is little doubt that Alexander-Arnold has the quality, potential and time to become the first-choice right back for both club and country in the future.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Liverpool

Steven Gerrard called incoming Liverpool star Alisson ‘world-class’ in April

Liverpool will complete a world record move for the Brazilian this week.

Mathew Nash

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Liverpool are set to give the fans what they want by signing a new goalkeeper. A world record fee has been agreed with AS Roma for Brazilian number one Alisson this week. Liverpool will pay the Italian side £67 million for the 25-year-old. Sky Sports report he will undergo a medical this week and a deal will then be finalised.

It is a bold move from Liverpool, who for a number of seasons have suffered with mediocre goalkeeping performances from Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet.

Alisson is considered one of the best keepers in Europe and keeps Manchester City’s brilliant Ederson Moraes on the bench for his country.

He is certainly highly-rated by one former Liverpool player and legend. Steven Gerrard is a big fan of the player.

He spoke highly of the goalie whilst working on BT Sport as a Champions League pundit last season.


“This fella does deserve the praise he is getting of late. He makes world-class saves, he’s up quick, he makes second saves. A world-class keeper no doubt.”

– Steven Gerrard talking of Alisson’s quality in April 2018

 


Of course, Liverpool came up against Alisson and his Roma side in the competition. Over the course of two legs, the Reds put seven goals past the Brazilian. It led some fans to question whether Alisson was actually the right man for Liverpool.

 

But Liverpool needed a keeper with pedigree. Karius is simply too error-prone and his confidence must be at an all-time low after his Champions League final woe.

Liverpool fans will hope Alisson can live up to Gerrard’s ‘world-class’ tag and his price-tag next season.

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Three alternatives for Liverpool with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the season

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Photo: Getty Images.

Amid what felt like a positive few days for Liverpool, fans were brought back down to earth by the devastating blow that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unlikely to return from injury in 2018/19.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed the news after the midfielder suffered damage to his posterior cruciate ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, and medial ligaments in a challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov in a Champions League semi-final against Roma.

Oxlade-Chamberlain underwent successful surgery only a few days after the incident but is not expected to be available for selection and fully fit until the 2019/20 season.

“It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab. We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it. There has been no change, the new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly. But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”

Jurgen Klopp broke the news to the club’s official website.

The news comes as a real negative for Klopp, who will be busy planning how to get through the campaign without one of the team’s best performers in the tail end of last season.

His absence will open the door for three other men at Anfield though…

Georgino Wijnaldum

The arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho looked to be a major concern for the Dutchman, but with Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out it seems unlikely that he will be moved on this summer at least. Quietly efficient and often producing in big games, he has been one of the first to have a finger pointed at him in frustrating results against lower level opposition.

With such high quality additions, Wijnaldum falls into the category of a player without the glamour of the likes of Keita but lacking the status of Jordan Henderson or James Milner. At times he has had his biggest impact in a more advanced midfield role, and whilst he lacks the injured man’s energy, he could be an option.

Nabil Fekir

Despite a deal seemingly being called off, Dean Jones of Bleacher Report has suggested that a move could be back on and Fekir would take up the role of natural playmaker as the attacking option in Klopp’s midfield trio. Whilst he may not be a direct replacement for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he would be the closest to filling Philippe Coutinho since he left in January and the former Southampton man really stepped up his game.

It could be a big ask for Fekir arriving at a new club after such a short pre-season following a successful World Cup campaign with France, but there is little doubt that if he joins Fekir would be the highest quality alternative in his place.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Adam Lallana

Lallana was a favourite with his hard working attitude playing into Jurgen Klopp’s system perfectly, but the last season was a difficult one for the midfielder as he suffered a number of injury set-backs and never really got going for the Reds.

The most natural replacement in a midfield three given that it was the role he occupied before Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived from Arsenal, he may have a refreshed chance to make his claim this season.

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Adam Lewis could follow in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s footsteps for Liverpool

The 18-year-old has been in fine form for Liverpool and England in recent years.

Mathew Nash

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Liverpool have an absolute gem on their hands in the form of right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. The 19-year-old was incredible for the Reds last season, playing 33 times. Such an impressive campaign eventually saw him make the England squad for the World Cup in Russia.

But could they have an equally impressive breakout talent on their hands for the other side of the pitch?

Adam Lewis just put in a fine performance at left wing-back for England’s under-19s, as they defeated  Turkey 3-2 at the European Championships in Finland.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The 18-year-old will no doubt be catching the eyes of the Liverpool first-team staff with such performances.

The former academy captain made his way into the under-23 set-up last season and is now looking like one of Liverpool’s star young players.

He is a devastating attacking full-back. In his 37 under-18 league games to date, he has 12 assists. Steven Gerrard was a huge fan and the sky’s the limit for Lewis.


“Going forward, I haven’t seen anyone as good as him at that age, in terms of quality and what he can deliver in the final third.”

– Steven Gerrard on Adam Lewis’ potential

 


Andrew Robertson is currently Liverpool’s number one left-back and rightly so. But there is no reason why Lewis could not usurp the error-prone Alberto Moreno to be his back-up next season.

 

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