Growing up, my understanding of the game of soccer was that the defenders did yeoman’s work, the midfielders were the real geniuses, and the strikers were fast and maybe tricksy but really stood on the shoulders of everyone else’s graft. This is maybe true in varying degrees today, but the modern game has certainly evolved in the decades since my youth (I won’t tell you how many decades).
Over the past decade alone, one would be able to flick on a random match featuring the best teams in world football and see names like David Alaba, Dani Alves, Phillip Lahm as being among the most important players for their respective squads. Players that ply trade on the wing like traditional playmakers but whose actual responsibilities include a fair bit of defending. These players all have one thing in common: they’ve all spent time as fullbacks.
And while it’s a bit early to etch the name of one young man alongside these luminaries, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance on the weekend earned him yet more plaudits in his already bright career. The young right back’s work against Watford was terrific as he locked down the flank and provided assists on three of Liverpool’s five goals for the evening. Each one looking beautiful and providing clear examples of the young man’s talent at measuring passes with deadly accuracy.
When asked about it, Jurgen Klopp only had positive things to say about TAA’s magisterial performance.
“That game was exceptional; I don’t think I was ever part of a game that somebody had a hat-trick of assists.”
And he should know: Klopp later noted that he once spent time at fullback during his own playing days. So this bit of praise comes with the backing of someone who knows the various challenges of filling this role.
Needless to say, most people won’t be fussed at all to see the hubbub around young Trent. His poised play and quality passing have only served to validate the faith that Klopp and the coaching staff have in him. More, he’s showing that he’s on the verge of being a potential special player for the Reds, with a lengthy and bright future ahead of him. He’s first on the team sheet when it comes to right back. And it’s possible that Jurgen sees him in other roles, too, given that Trent spent time in the midfield during his stay at the Academy.
Wherever the future takes him, though, it’s great to see success fall to not only an Academy product, but a Scouser and life-long Liverpool fan. Trent Alexander-Arnold is simultaneously living the dreams of most Reds supporters, while also knitting together a highlight reel that is dream-worthy. Not bad for a humble lad from Liverpool.