Jurgen Klopp has always been widely praised for promoting from within, giving young players the chance to break through like Trent Alexander-Arnold in 2016.
Nathaniel Clyne was an established Premier League right back and was considered to be Mr Reliable when he was usurped by a skinny, almost arrogant young lad from West Derby.
Every week, he would deliver a 7/10 performance. Always relied upon to defend when needed but not the greatest in attack.
Alexander-Arnold debut one of the most important Klopp moments
Liverpool’s German manager gave a professional debut to Trent Alexander-Arnold, wearing the no.66, a shirt that would later become iconic, in the EFL Cup a tournament that has become a tournament used by Klopp to give Academy players their first steps in their fledgeling careers.
This season, we’ve seen young names like Tyler Morton, Conor Bradley, Billy Koumetio and more experienced but relatively youthful players like Curtis Jones and Neco Williams play in the EFL Cup against Leicester City and put on a show to come back from 3-1 down to win 5-4 on penalties in front of a rapturous Anfield.
Alexander-Arnold, who stole Clyne’s place in the starting XI ever since his debut against Spurs in the EFL Cup, has revealed who he would add to Liverpool’s starting XI if he could choose.
Trent would add two world-class players to Liverpool
In the buildup to Christmas, Trent Alexander-Arnold was interviewed by the Premier League for Uncut as part of a promo for EA SPORTS FIFA.
When quizzed, Alexander-Arnold said he would sign Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Son if he could add two Premier League players to the Liverpool squad.
It’s no surprise as they are two of the best players and although KdB doesn’t have the most goals and assists this season due to injury, Son has 9 goals and 3 assists for Spurs and the Lily Whites are in fine form as they reap the benefits of Antonio Conte’s counter-attacking tactics.
How would Heung-Min Son fit in at Liverpool if signed?
A small disclaimer: with Transfermarkt valuing the Spurs no.7 at £72m, it’s unlikely he will ever join Liverpool even if Alexander-Arnold wants him.
That said, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino all yet to put pen to paper on a contract extension with 18 months remaining on their Liverpool contracts, there could yet be space for Son in the Reds’ star-studded lineup.
As Jurgen Klopp saw firsthand when Conte and his side hosted the Reds recently, Son has pace to burn and makes intelligent runs.
Recently, Liverpool have been playing a 4-2-4 when in possession and while Sadio Mane is not playing nearly as poorly as some would suggest, I would love to see Son in that left-sided role.
The whole Spurs team hit the Spider-Man celebration after Heung-min Son's goal 🕸 pic.twitter.com/M72wJHreVP
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 26, 2021
With his pace and finishing, it would be incredible if Klopp asked him to run in behind in transition when he is the most dangerous.
However, one thing that Mane provides that Son does not is an aerial threat and with Trent whipping crosses from the right, the South-Korean would not be as much of a threat as Mane in those instances and would also limit Alexander-Arnold’s impact at the same time.
I’m sure Klopp would find a way past that but that is a limitation of Son’s to keep in mind when daydreaming of Liverpool signing Heung-Min Son.
It might be more of a product of their respective roles but Mane is much more defensive and this is very important for Liverpool’s counter-pressing system. The Reds are hugely reliant on winning the ball back in key areas to ensure they don’t place undue pressure on their defence even if Virgil van Dijk and co. can deal with attacks.
But the danger with playing a 4-2-4 in possession is that when the ball is turned over, there is a lot of space in risky areas and so having a winger like Son who isn’t as switched on defensively could leave Liverpool prone to dangerous counter-attacks as opposed to a winger like Sadio Mane, who is more than willing to put in the hard yards which is why his attacking output suffers in comparison to Mohamed Salah.
Son is more of an inside forward – much like Salah – and he’d be more of a replacement for the Egyptian than for Mane albeit on the wrong side of the pitch and, frankly, given his age and price tag, he’s not a signing that makes sense for Liverpool.
How would Kevin De Bruyne fit in at Liverpool if signed?
The perfect Jurgen Klopp player. He’s struggled hugely this season and that is ultimately his major downfall but Kevin De Bruyne is the most talented player in the Premier League and that includes Mohamed Salah.
I find it hugely hilarious that Chelsea had Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku and they’re three of the best players in the Premier League and none of them play at Stamford Bridge.
KDB under Klopp, without injuries, would be even more of a menace to the Premier League than he already he is and that’s purely to do with his ability to press, play the ball quickly and make darting forwards.
He’s the full package and he’s the only player in the Premier League that is better at crossing than Trent Alexander-Arnold which is probably why the Scouser admires him so much.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 💙 pic.twitter.com/i0FHKeVy28
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) December 26, 2021
He’s also so versatile which is something Klopp and Pep Guardiola and many other top coaches yearn for because it gives them in-game adaptability.
Aside from being prone to injury, De Bruyne is one of those world-class players that is so complete that it’s difficult to find a flaw. He’s like Virgil van Dijk. Mohamed Salah has flaws but he’s so good and consistent at his strengths that he covers them up but when De the Belgian is fit, he’s genuinely unstoppable.
It’s a pity that Manchester City will consider him to be what Italian newspapers like to call ‘untouchable’ and when he get’s going, that’s really what he is.