Rio Ferdinand has once again waxed lyrical about Trent Alexander-Arnold after the young fullback helped Liverpool book their place in the Champions League quarterfinals.
It’s a strange thing to celebrate after a game in which Liverpool lost but the Reds are into the next round of the European Cup despite an odd 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan which featured a thunderbolt from Lautaro Martinez and a red card for Alexis Sanchez.
As much as the scoreline will indicate Inter were on top, Liverpool bossed proceedings and Trent Alexander-Arnold was predictably at the centre of things as the Reds had 63% of possession at Anfield.
According to WhoScored, the right-back was Man of the Match on Tuesday evening and I can’t disagree as he was the best Liverpool player on the pitch although had Mohamed Salah’s two shots not cannoned off the post, subjectivity may have skewed things.
Incredibly, Alexander-Arnold had 127 touches, played 5 key passes, had a 100% take-on success rate from 2 attempts and won 2/3 of his tackles.
He very almost scored a beautiful free-kick but he put too much whip on the ball and it took it away from Samir Handanovic’s goal but if the former Academy star had found the net, it would have gone down as one of the all-time great Champions League goals.
He said: “Look where he is there [centrally] – that’s where he’s starting,” said Ferdinand. “That’s like Kevin De Bruyne territory in that position, almost like a False 10, 8 position.
“You don’t get assists just from being in the right positions, you’ve got to be able to execute and that’s what he has above most.
“He’s a phenomenal footballer.”
The Scouser is priceless, although he is reportedly worth around £72m, and his ability to step into midfield and perform as an auxiliary no.8 and bounce off of Thiago helps Liverpool keep the ball and stave off attacks from the likes of Inter Milan.
Even Trent’s most staunch defenders will admit he has defensive shortcomings but he’s improved tenfold at the back and his counter-pressing is where he is strongest without the ball.
Jurgen Klopp said after the West Ham win that Alexander-Arnold would not play at right-back if he could not defend.
He was able to keep Ivan Perisic limited to very few opportunities compared to the first leg when it felt like the Croatian had the 23-year-old on ice skates at times.