Wednesday evening marked a big night for Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the 22-year-old Scouser given the captain’s armband for the first time. However, it was a highly significant evening for another player, too.
The final Champions League group stage game of the season was also the senior debut for 19-year-old midfielder Leighton Clarkson, with the youngster acquitting himself well—and was arguably the Reds’ best midfielder.
“It’s stuff you dream of as a child obviously, making your Champions League debut,” the Blackburn-born academy graduate said following the match. “It’s a special moment for me and my family and it’s one I won’t forget.
“First half, I thought I was better because we were playing more football and I thought I was making a few decent passes. Then in the second we weren’t really at it. That’s something to work towards with the games coming up.”
Clarkson took on the deepest role in Liverpool’s midfield on Wednesday evening, and while the player might appear a touch diminutive for such a role in a hectic Premier League game, he certainly held his own against Midtjylland.
What stood out most, though, was his passing range, as he spread the ball well to his teammates—well enough at times even to draw a smattering of comparisons to regulars in midfield like Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.
“I’ve been training with them for quite a bit now but that was my proper debut,” Clarkson added of what were his first minutes with the senior team in a game outside pre-season. “They were just saying, ‘Feel free, be yourself.’
“For me to be up there training with them I’ve got to have shown [Jürgen Klopp] something so I’m happy I’ve done that and I’m obviously delighted he gave me this opportunity and I feel like I’ve taken it.”