One of the most understated moments of last season for Liverpool came in the playoff round of the Champions League. Teenage full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, making his debut in Europe’s elite, stepped up against Hoffenheim to take a free kick.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t stand out too dramatically. However, it spoke volumes of the self-belief possessed by young Trent. The then eighteen-year-old duly and impressively dispatched the free kick. Afterwards, club captain Jordan Henderson expressed a lack of surprise, stating the young full-back was doing wonders in training all the time. Over the nine months that followed, Alexander-Arnold has continued to progress spectacularly, culminating in last night’s England debut against Belgium.
Steven Gerrard confidently announced in his last book that Trent was the best young player he’d seen at Liverpool in two decades. Praise, indeed, but the lad from West Derby has seldom looked phased. Thrown into first-team contention with the absence of Nathaniel Clyne, Trent stayed in on merit.
He grew in confidence and maturity as he progressed at right back. Possessing great athletism, balance and composure, Trent is tailor-made for Klopp’s high-pressing, high-octane style, and it seems to have nicely benefited his development. While his distribution is, at times, a bit wayward, when he gets it right, it is usually on the money. This was evident last night when he crossed the ball at full sprint to the head of Jamie Vardy.
Your hope with youngsters when they are thrown into the first team is that they at least look as though they are capable. With Gomez in and out of the team, Trent played a lot more than Klopp would have liked. Again, though, he seldom looked nervous or out of place.
His performances in the Champions League run were almost faultless. Joining counter attacks with gusto and real menace, the teenager was also capable of getting back and doing his vital defensive work. Unlike say, Moreno, he seems capable of manning that flank with real authority and judgement.
There have been a couple of dicey moments, such as his switching off in both legs of the semis against Roma, however, you have to cut him some slack. He is only nineteen and still developing. His season so nearly ended in glory, but at least he will have benefited from exposure to football at its most pressured.
If injuries are kind, Trent looks like he is set for a stellar future. His touch, distribution and pace also hint at a more central role in the team.
It’s always great to see a young local lad break through and do so well. Trent possesses huge quality and is well placed to build his talent. He’s had one hell of a breakthrough year. If he goes on to have even a fraction of the career we all hope to see, it will be a pleasure to watch him in red.
This article was originally posted here, by Anthony Kelly.