Trent 2.0: Alexander-Arnold’s rebirth a reason for Liverpool and England to celebrate
John Nicholson is buzzing to watch Liverpool star and all-round good egg Trent Alexander-Arnold grow into a midfield role. Keep watching, Gareth…
Who’s this then?
Trent John Alexander-Arnold is a 5’9” (he looks taller, doesn’t he?) 24-year-old, newly reborn as a midfielder for Liverpool, the only club he’s ever played for, now racking up 286 games, scoring 19 times and making a mighty 74 assists across the last seven years, in the process winning absolutely every trophy possible. It already feels like he’s been around forever. This week he launched ‘The After Academy’, an initiative focused on providing career opportunities to former academy players.
The scheme, run in conjunction with the Professional Footballers’ Association, will partner with companies to provide job opportunities for former academy players, who will be supported throughout the application process and Trent is funding the project personally for the next five years, which is rather nice of him. Fair to say he is one of the most socially conscious of young footballers, supporting ‘An Hour for Others’, since he was a teenager which seeks to provide underprivileged members of the community with anything from food hampers and toys to cooking and science lessons
He joined the Reds aged six and worked his way through the youth academy, often playing as a midfielder, eventually settling into the role of right-back. He made his first-team debut in the 2016-17 season, winning Liverpool’s Young Player Of The Season for that campaign and the following season too and then winning PFA Young Player of the Year in 2019-20.
He got his first of 18 international caps in 2018. Many feel he should’ve played more for England, but the truth is, his skill set doesn’t really fit into how Gareth Southgate wants England to play. And for some reason, he’s never really performed consistently across those 18 caps. There’s still plenty of time to do so, though.
He was actually eligible to play for the USA through his maternal grandma, who had moved to America and had, I’m reliably informed, a relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson at some point!
This season his abilities as a defender have been understandably questioned, which seems to have led to his move into midfield, a position he looks more than suited to play. It’s worth restating that he’s still only 24, still a young player, albeit one who has already achieved so much.
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Why the love?
Seeing TAA haring down the right and delivering one of those arcing, curving crosses is easily one of modern football’s finest, most thrilling sights. For Liverpool fans and surely for many neutrals too, that is one of football’s enduring pleasures. It’s also a very traditional art form, albeit not for someone who is supposed to be a full-back. The winger dinging one into the box for a striker to nod it in, fell out of fashion in the tedious tika-taka era but Trent has proven just how effective it can be.
He is also a magnificent purveyor of the long, raking diag, boffing it from right-back position to left-sided front player. That must look fantastic when you’re in the stadium. On top of that he occasionally thwacks a free-kick into the top bin. He has taken some of the most significant corners in Liverpool’s modern era, especially THAT one against Barcelona in one of the most thrilling games in the modern era. If you’ve never heard Ian Dennis’ and Alan Shearer doing the 5Live commentary, it is one of the finest you will ever hear. If you need a bit of a spine tingling to brighten your day, get a shot of the good stuff here.
We love an all-action player who seems to be involved in the play all of the time, and even though defensively he has not always covered himself in glory this season, he is a footballer most of us would be happy paying to watch and one who is always likely to do something to get us off our seats.
It has never seemed fair to me that he’s charged with having the courage and physicality to bomb forward and create chances for others, and also required to bomb back and break up the opposition attacks. That is surely a job for another player. His move into midfield has been speculated on for years now. I seem to recall he played right midfield for England once and didn’t go well, but in 2023 he looks like everything you’d want from a progressive #4. His passing is certainly good enough and he’s athletic enough to break into the opposition penalty box if required.
Because he’s so identified and defined in that right-back role and has played it over 270 times for his club, it feels odd to see him playing somewhere else. But at 24 with up to 15 years of playing ahead of him, perhaps in coming seasons it will seem odd that he ever played anywhere else but midfield.
Three great moments
So many to choose from. THAT corner…
The new, rather good midfield Trent…
His current £180,000 per week contract runs until 2025 but it is impossible to imagine him playing for any other team than Liverpool, though I’m sure the biggest clubs on earth would certainly be interested in signing him and paying him double what he currently earns. Transfermarkt values him at 65million Euros which sounds a little low for someone who has so many assists to his name.
The criticism he’s had over the years for lack of rigour in defending has probably been overstated, but his move into midfield, where he played in his youth career makes a lot of sense. It may even garner him more caps for England.
That he devotes time and money to socially responsible charities and projects is much to his credit and adds to his good vibes. He is such a fantastic football artist, one who entertains every time he takes to the pitch, so much so that perhaps we take him a little for granted. His is not a normal or typical talent. He is extraordinary.
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