The former Reds midfielder believes an academy graduate looking to get back in shape at Anfield remains England’s first choice in the post he has chosen
Trent Alexander-Arnold faces the kind of criticism that has been leveled at Mohamed Salah in the past, says Jason McAteer, with the former Liverpool claiming that if the 22-year-old’s brain “looks fried” it remains “Englandthe best right-back ”.
Having been a regular at club and country since he first appeared on the scene as a teenager, the demands of top-level competition have started to catch up with an Anfield academy graduate in recent times.
The standards he has set in his career to date have been so high that any dive is going to be dissected down to the smallest detail.
McAteer admits the highly-rated defender looks a bit lost at the moment, but he’s not about to start doubting the overall ability of a man who has played for a dominant Reds side in recent years.
“Although Trent Alexander-Arnold has struggled a bit this season, he is still England’s best right-back,” said former Liverpool midfielder McAteer. FreeSuperTips.
“However, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect right-back’ these days. Years ago your right back was a defensive player who was there to protect all four full backs, he was there to help the winger and every now and then he would come forward. However, the modern right-back is practically a winger.
“Trent’s best qualities are when he comes forward. His crossing and his physical form are sublime, but defensively that there are question marks about him.
“As a coach you have to decide if you want that defensive player on your side or someone who’s more offensive, that’s what Klopp wants and that’s why Trent is a perfect fit. For Gareth Southgate, it depends on what he wants for each game and who best fits the position against each opposition.
“There have been games this season where he lacked quality, which is surprising given how much he has set his own performance bar. But when you’re in the media spotlight playing for Liverpool, and you don’t hit the level of performance you had before, you’re going to be scrutinized.
“It’s similar with Mohamed Salah in his first season where he scored so many goals, when he didn’t equal that the following season, people said he was done, while in hindsight his statistics are simply phenomenal.
“What Liverpool have done under Klopp in the last few seasons is brilliant, and there was bound to be a falling point somewhere.
“When a player is a little older and more in his career, you can handle him better, but with Trent he’s young, he plays football at the highest level and plays every week. It’s a lot of mental pressure for a young player. He looks mentally and physically exhausted, and his brain looks fried.
“Despite this, you still have to play it in the match against Manchester United. It’s the biggest game of the season in the Premier League, so the players don’t feel tired in the preparation. If Klopp wants to rest him for a few games, you do that after the United game.
Defending Premier League champions Liverpool are set to host former opponents United on Sunday, with this game at Anfield set to be resumed with the resurgence of the Red Devils having reached the top of the table.