By this point, very few Liverpool supporters still think of Trent Alexander-Arnold as a raw, teenaged Academy product, despite the fact that he has, until now, technically been a teenager. That changes today, as the young fullback celebrates his twentieth birthday, which just so happens to coincide with a titanic duel against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side in the Premier League.
His birthday wish as simple as it was unsurprising.
“You want a good and happy day on your birthday – and nothing would make me happier than getting the three points,” Alexander-Arnold told the club’s website. “You want to play in [these matches] all the time, play as many of them as you can and test yourself against the best players.”
If Liverpool are to grant Alexander-Arnold his wish, they will have to be at the top of their game, which arguably was not the case in their recent Champions League defeat at Napoli.
“It’s the full concentration that you need,” added Alexander-Arnold. “You cannot switch off at all because you’ll get punished.”
“Against the top teams in the Premier League, like Man City and Chelsea, if you switch off for a second, a goal could be going in. That’s the difference – it has to be full concentration, not switching off or taking a break.”
For many young men of his age facing a tough task at the office on their birthday, you might expect a bit of a party planned afterwards in which to blow off steam. Alexander-Arnold’s plans involve something a bit different. On Monday, the young defender is going to unwind by playing chess against Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.
It’s no secret that Alexander-Arnold is fond of chess, having been snapped pondering a board during Liverpool’s long-distance travels. And listening to him talk about the game, it seems a natural extension of his approach to football.
“Judging when and how to attack, whilst keeping a watchful eye on your defense,” was his description. “The pieces, like players have different positions, places and qualities and you need to know how to get the best use of them in order to get the result.”