After a handful of promising appearances for the first team last season, the buzz around Trent Alexander-Arnold grew. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the Liverpool Academy’s next great product and the club’s next great home-grown player.
Ever since Steven Gerrard left Liverpool for Los Angeles and eventually retired from playing football, fans had been waiting and wondering who might be the next local lad to steal headlines. Some worried that Liverpool wouldn’t have another like Gerrard, at least not any time soon. But the wait may well be over. The boy who idolised Steven Gerrard growing up may be following his path to success.
His debut for Liverpool’s first team came in the League Cup fourth round on October 25, 2016, against Tottenham Hotspur. He became the 18th academy graduate to debut for Liverpool since Stevie G donned the red kit for the first time in 1998. Only two of the 17 players to make their debuts between Gerrard and Alexander-Arnold are still at the club; Jon Flanagan and Connor Randall (on loan at Hearts), while Flanagan is the only one to make 50 appearances for the first team. His Premier League debut came at Old Trafford last season, where Jürgen Klopp threw the youngster into the mix in front of a rowdy crowd of 75,000. He handled himself well under the pressure and has proven to be worthy competition for Nathaniel Clyne’s nailed-on starting spot at right-back.
Steven Gerrard has long spoken of the West Derby-born teenager’s talent. He identified him as one to watch in his autobiography and has always spoken highly of the young Scouser.
“He’s a great professional, he’s down at the academy all the time, he’s very grounded,” said Gerrard. “He always wants to learn and improve. Nathaniel Clyne has to be careful as Trent is already breathing down his neck.”
Alexander-Arnold became the first Liverpudlian to score since Gerrard himself when he scored a breath-taking free-kick in a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off. Thus far, the European debut is no doubt the stand-out performance in the teenager’s 2017/18 season. To be handed the responsibility of a free kick chance at goal in such an important tie shows that he’s trusted, by both his fellow players and his manager, and rightly so.
At just 18 years old, Trent Alexander-Arnold is living the dream. He grew up a stone’s throw from Melwood and fell in love with Liverpool when he was six. Now, he is the player that kids have posters of on their walls, as Scouse children–and children all across h watch him on TV and model his skills.
Alexander-Arnold has been impressing through the ranks for quite some time – with his attitude, dedication, ability, athleticism and application. Many will say ‘temper the excitement, don’t pile on the pressure,’ but the kid merits the hype, there’s no denying that. Of course, there is room for improvement, and he will make mistakes, but one day, he will be even more influential on the pitch. He will tackle with more precision, cross with more accuracy, and take free-kicks without needing ‘egging on’ from teammates and Klopp. His young shoulders can quite clearly handle the increased pressure; he does what he needs to do and as Gerrard said, Clyne has a real challenge to maintain his starting spot on the right. Trent has become the preferred right-back for many fans, but not just because he is a local lad doing well for his club–he is also a better attacking right-back than Nathaniel Clyne. Clyne is solid defensively, but always falls down when going forward. The club has an unstoppable attack, but it has become frustrating when Clyne’s attacking contribution is not up to the mark.
Alexander-Arnold, on the other hand, is brilliant going forward, but his weakness lies in defence. He is not as strong as Clyne at the back, but he has plenty of time to work on that. His crossing ability and set-pieces are excellent, something that can never be said about Clyne.
Of course, we saw more recently that Alexander-Arnold may have felt the pressure against Manchester City, after he was handed another league start from Klopp and may not have been able to make quick decisions for something as simple as a throw-in. At the end of the day, he is just a kid–a kid with an immense amount of pressure resting on his shoulders–and Liverpool fans are very, very impatient. If they like a player, he must do no wrong. Some of his first-team performances have seen him struggle – his outing against Hoffenheim at Anfield, Watford and Burnley are particularly noteworthy – and they have seen Joe Gomez return to the side as right-back for the time being to bring some stability to a crumbling defence.
He will continue to learn from his teammates, manager, and opponents, like all of his fellow Academy prospects have done. He will make mistakes like all footballers do. Even the most experienced footballers make rookie mistakes, and then they do what they can in training to make sure that they do not repeat them.
Trent Alexander-Arnold signed a new deal in July, committing his future to Liverpool with a five-year contract and highlighting his desire to improve.
“It’s not a good thing if you are ever satisfied in football, you’ve always got to strive for better.”
Those comments alone just show how mature he is for an 18-year-old, and with the support of Jürgen Klopp and the fans, he is destined for success at Liverpool Football Club.
By: Roopa Vyas/@LFC_RV