Saturday wasn’t just another important three points as Liverpool fought to stay top of the Premier League table and maintain their gap over title rivals Manchester City. It was also Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 100th game, no small achievement at just 21 years of age.
It wasn’t just a moment to reflect on an achievement for the player, though. It was also a moment to reflect on it for Pepijn Lijnders, with Liverpool’s assistant manager having overseen Alexander-Arnold all the way back at the U16 level when Lijnders first arrived.
“I love him!” Lijnders raved to the club’s official website when asked about Alexander-Arnold and his 100 first team Liverpool appearances. “A Ferrari without fuel is nothing. But he has so much fuel, so much energy, and will power to develop and make his game better.
“I saw that when he was 15 and 16, but to see it still in a player—in the eyes and in training—I think it’s the reason why he takes the game further and further and sets a new benchmark for an offensive full-back. He’s a good example of how the process should work.”
That process and Alexander-Arnold’s drive has seen him become arguably the best attacking right back in the game today. And with his passing range, a strength from the beginning, as he continues to develop there have been questions about the future.
Questions about whether he will eventually move into the middle, where his talents might be harnessed to control the game even more. Lijnders, though, isn’t sure about that, and points to a growing importance of wing play to counter increasingly well-drilled midfields.
“I’m not sure how the game will evolve, the only thing I know is they close the centre better and better and defensive stability is becoming better,” he noted. “So the wings become more interesting and become more important, to have a good offensive idea there.
“Trent is one who gives us that from that position, he plays like a central midfielder there. Of course, from the centre of the pitch you can reach many more position, but in this moment, why would you think about it if you have Trent as a full-back like that?”