EPL

Liverpool great Barnes unsure if Alexander-Arnold suits midfield role

By Sports Desk July 25, 2023

Liverpool great John Barnes is not convinced Trent Alexander-Arnold is at his creative best when used in the central role he adopted last season.

Having attracted criticism for a series of defensive mishaps as Liverpool failed to challenge Manchester City last term, Alexander-Arnold switched to a central role in the season's closing weeks.

Liverpool won seven of their last nine Premier League games to finish fifth, a run that started with Alexander-Arnold producing two assists in a 6-1 rout of Leeds United, drifting inside from his right-back position to a hybrid role.

Alexander-Arnold then played in midfield during England's wins over Malta and North Macedonia last month, but Barnes is not sure it will become his permanent position.

"It depends on the games, if you can dominate position," Barnes told Stats Perform. "Possibly when you're playing against City, you're not able to do that.

"Are we going to get a right-back and Trent plays in midfield, or [will he] move into midfield in possession? 

"When he moves into midfield, if you lose the ball, is he able to get back to the right-back position? It really depends on what they want and how they see that. 

"Trent probably produces more playing in the right-back position, in terms of the crosses he puts in for people to score. Playing in midfield, he still creates more from a right-back position. 

"We may look at that situation and say we haven't got a midfield player who's going to produce that kind of pass, but we lose what he has at right-back in terms of his crossing."

With Liverpool bolstering their midfield with the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, Barnes believes there may no longer be a need for Alexander-Arnold to play centrally.

"I don't necessarily feel that Trent creates more goalscoring opportunities playing in that role. But once again, it really depends on necessity," he added.

"Now that we have the midfield players we have, I'd be surprised. We may still do it on the odd occasion, but I think that was more out of necessity than anything else."

Former Liverpool midfielders Lucas Leiva and Gary McAllister, however, believe Alexander-Arnold has the quality to be a good option in either position.

"I think Trent showed that he's got the quality to play in midfield," Lucas said. "As a full-back, you have a little more time on the ball because in midfield you're always under pressure.

"But Trent has the capacity to play in both positions, which is very good. That gives another option to Jurgen [Klopp], depending on the game and depending on the system.

"For sure, he is capable of doing that. I'm looking forward to it also because every year, Trent is improving and getting better and better. He's a world-class player but he's still very young and coming into midfield shows another improvement from him."

McAllister echoed Lucas' thoughts, adding: "He's got the ability and has got such an amazing range of passing, first and foremost.

"But I'm sure Jurgen is going be very careful not to take away his ability to get high and wide to deliver crosses for the forwards.

"Being able to adapt with Trent in two or three different positions is a massive bonus for Jurgen. I thought it was really exciting watching him come off the side.

"I thought he was outstanding and it did marry in with fact that Liverpool finished the season really well. He hit a dozen passes that nobody else in the league could hit."

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