Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance v Atletico: why Jurgen Klopp’s right amid Liverpool midfield debate

Many have previously argued the England international should be moved into midfield but he was tremendous in Champions League win at right-back.

There's long been clamour for Jurgen Klopp to make a tactical change in his Liverpool team.

Gary Lineker has been the main cheerleader for such a switch, with others concurring.

However, Klopp has always been staunchly against it.

That's what Lineker would have done long ago, anyway, when it comes to Trent Alexander-Arnold's position. The Match of the Day host believes shifting Alexander-Arnold into the engine room would allow him to pull even more strings than from the right-hand side of defence.

Gareth Southgate experimented with such tactic in England's victory over Andorra in September. It backfired emphatically.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold featured in midfield for England against Andorra in September. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

And Alexander-Arnold's performance in the Reds' 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid hammered home why Klopp has - and never will - convert the homegrown talent into a midfielder.

He might have occupied the middle of the park coming through the ranks in the academy.

But those days are well gone. Alexander-Arnold is a right-back and will remain a right-back for the rest of his career.

Masterclass

The 23-year-old engineered both of Liverpool's goals to ensure they advanced into the Champions League last 16 with two matches to spare. More impressively, they have already topped Group B which was dubbed the Group of Death when the draw was made back in August.

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The first assist was quintessential Alexander-Arnold. Finding himself in space just outside the right-hand side of the box, his cross needed to be inch-perfect to avoid three Atletico defenders and find Diogo Jota.

He did that with aplomb as Jota stooped low to head home in the 13th minute.

The Portuguese knew where the ball was coming and that it'd be on the money. All he had to do was get the precision of his finish right.

And, surprise surprise, Alexander-Arnold put another goal on a plate to double the Reds' lead. This time, his low centre picked out the onrushing Sadio Mane, who displayed excellent composure to find the back of the net.

Diogo Jota celebrates opening the scoring in Liverpool’s defeat of Atletico Madrid with Jordan Henderson. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

When it comes to the best right-backs both in the Premier League and on the planet, Alexander-Arnold boasts such a claim. On current form, perhaps only Chelsea's Reece James is a rival.

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This season, Alexander-Arnold has recorded six assists in just 11 games.

In terms of progressive passes, he's registered 155. No player in Europe's top five leagues has more, despite Alexander-Arnold missing three games so far.

Creator-in-chief

Full-backs in Klopp's system are just as crucial as any other role. They are the creators-in-chief and Alexander-Arnold is the trailblazer.

The partnership he has built with Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson is seamless. That trio almost have a telepathic understanding when it comes to link-up play.

Jordan Henderson celebrates Liverpool’s win over Atletico Madrid. Picture: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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At the age of 23, Alexander-Arnold is only improving and far from peaking. Imagine how good he might be in five years' time? You can't put a ceiling on the sort of player he might develop into.

With Liverpool already ensconced in the next stage of the Champions League, it now gives Klopp a chance to rest Alexander-Arnold for the remaining games against Porto and AC Milan.

But when the knockout stages begin in February, Alexander-Arnold will be pivotal to the Reds' ambitions.