When it became clear back in the summer that Nathaniel Clyne’s injury meant a long-term absence for the Liverpool right back, there were not many who were a hundred percent confident that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez were ready to step up for Jürgen Klopp this season. But the pair have made great progress under the manager’s guidance. Clyne may be returning as the seasoned pro but Alexander-Arnold has been showing his maturity lately, battling against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The local Liverpool boy and Academy graduate has gone up against some of the best players in the world this season. Klopp will provide Alexander-Arnold with support if he sees fit, like he did against City, but the nineteen-year-old is showing more and more that he can handle himself. He’s getting stronger and sharper and that’s down to the opposition he’s been given the chance to face. The way Trent did his job against Leroy Sané was exceptional given the occasion and the mental strength needed to withstand constant pressure from City’s attack.
“You look forward to playing these type of games and testing yourself,” said Alexander-Arnold.
“I got the opportunity to do that over the two legs and I tried to do the right things and win my personal battles. Hopefully I came out on top and I hope everyone sees it that way as well.
“I guess Man City looked at it and (felt) I’m the weak link. Maybe that gave me that underdog mentality and I tried to prove them wrong. I wanted to show them I’m not the weak link in the team.
“It was a different test for me. It was a bigger, harder test. I had to play to a better level than I’ve probably ever played before. It tested me to a new level.
“In that sense, yeah, it has taken me to a new level and I know I’ve got that in me now. I need to keep those standards really high to be able to play in these European elite games and come out on top in them.”
The next level will be another test all it’s own. The Champions League semi-finals against one of Bayern Munich, Roma or Real Madrid. All those team’s managers will be looking at footage and trying to figuring out how they can target Trent better than Pep Guardiola did. But Alexander-Arnold has passed through a threshold of confidence and will be unfazed at the possibility of facing off against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribéry.
At the start of the season Trent Alexander-Arnold may have been running on youthful exuberance and the support of one of the best managers in the world but the young player has built up a lot of momentum on that and is in a real competition for the right back spot with Nathaniel Clyne. That can only mean good things for Trent’s develop and Liverpool heading into next season.