TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD has the potential to be England’s answer to Cafu and could be a World Cup star if given the chance.
That assessment was made by Pep Lijnders, Liverpool assistant manager and a man who has worked with Alexander-Arnold since he was a young boy, ahead of one of the most important periods in the right-back’s stellar career.
Alexander-Arnold was a driving force in Liverpool’s quest for four trophies last season and the standards he has set for himself mean he will not be happy if he doesn’t add at least one more medal to his haul this season adds.
His position on Liverpool’s right is almost untouchable, but it’s a very different situation for England. The 23-year-old has struggled to maintain a consistent game streak for Gareth Southgate for a number of reasons and has never been able to show his true form.
However, Lijnders is adamant Alexander-Arnold has a chance and believes he has the potential to revolutionize England’s attacking game as long as he is given a platform to show his true worth.
“That’s just my opinion, but if you look at the game offensively, he’s given such a creative boost to this position in recent years,” said Lijnders. ‘True or not? Just like Cafu (for Brazil) in the past. For me there are no limits and if you see the game a certain way, then absolutely.
“But you can look at the game in many different ways. I see a boy who has grown, who is still growing, and I truly believe that life has no limits. You have to stay creative, stay unpredictable. Take, for example, the one-touch pass to Luis Diaz in last weekend’s game against Manchester City.
“Did we see this coming? no But that’s freedom. The ball comes out and he hits it the first time and Luis controls and juggles twice. What I’m trying to say is that Trent sees things that the stadium doesn’t see. He sees things I don’t see. It’s up to us to put him in the right position to excel.’
Lijnders spoke at an event to launch his first book, intensity, which charts Liverpool’s drive last season. To illustrate how much he thinks of Alexander-Arnold, his two sons Romijn and Benjamin both wore his number 66 shirt.
“It’s Daddy pushing,” Lijnders said with a smile. “I’ve been pushing for them to do this!”
Alexander-Arnold, whose long-term goal is to be Liverpool captain, opened the scoring in Community Shield’s 3-1 win over City last weekend and Lijnders is adamant there is scope to develop his performances and its influence cannot be limited.
“Oh, there are no limits for him,” said Lijnders. “At the start of last season he came to me and said he wanted to be considered for the captains group. I think it’s a really important part of his game that he’s close in that leading group with Milly and Hendo.
“If you watched the preseason, I think the games he played took it to a new level. The way he dominated the right flank offensively but also defensively was remarkable and when I see that lad it makes me really proud. He trains the same way he did when he was 15.
“The smile, the fire… our relationship is obviously very strong. Hope he scores more goals. But there’s always more – more to create, more goals to score, better to defend – but he knows that better than anyone. There is always room for improvement. Even James Milner has room for improvement and he’s 36. I’d say yes.”