TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD faces an uncertain future for England.
The Liverpool star, 23, is comfortably one of the best right-backs in the world.
Alexander-Arnold has constantly been near the top of the charts for assists and chances created for the past few season – all from defence.
But there have been criticism about his defensive ability.
Alexander-Arnold is becoming a polarising figure, with many fans thinking England have a strong enough team to risk playing him at right-back.
And in many ways, BOTH arguments are right.
The Reds ace set up THREE goals in the 10-0 drubbing of San Marino in November.
Going forward, no England right-back is as dangerous as Alexander-Arnold, not even James, according to the stats.
However, where the Liverpool man edges his rivals on the attacking end, he is sorely lacking on the defensive end.
According to The Athletic, Alexander-Arnold lags way behind in terms of duels.
When the stats are weighted based on the quality of opposition, they’re really quite shocking.
Where James boasts a 96 rating (out of 100), Trent is HALF that on 48 – with Trippier and Walker both on 76.
It’s worse yet in dribbles, with Alexander-Arnold’s rating 35, compared to 81, 80 and 58 amongst his rivals.
The numbers only get worse with the Reds man’s open-play headers rating a mere 11 – compared to 92, 90 and 84.
And Alexander-Arnold scores just ONE out of 100 for set-play headers – versus 93, 82 and 75.
Despite the worrying stats, Kop boss Jurgen Klopp has long been fighting Alexander-Arnold’s critics – particularly recently.
Following the Premier League win over West Ham a fortnight ago, a frustrated Klopp said: “I don’t understand [the criticism].
“If he couldn’t defend, he would not play here – at least not in that position.
“He has improved in all departments and defending, of course, as well.”
Jurgen Klopp finds himself time and time again being forced to defend Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive abilityCredit: Reuters
More recently, after the 2-0 win over Arsenal, Klopp defended Alexander-Arnold again, saying: “If anybody says that Trent cannot defend then they can come to me and I’ll knock them down.”
It was the same story in January, when – after the Carabao Cup win over Arsenal – Klopp ranted: “I don’t know anybody who is like Trent – a right-back who is that decisive and influential.
“I really don’t like always when they mention his defending.
“I thought he did outstandingly well defensively. The package of Trent is insane.”
However, it’s easy for Klopp to miss Alexander-Arnold’s defensive shortcomings.
After all, Liverpool play a possession-heavy style with Alexander-Arnold a key part of their attacking build-up from the start to the finish of attacks.
Let’s not forget his dead-ball ability, arguably the best in the league alongside James Ward-Prowse, either.
But England don’t play that way. Simply put, the Three Lions aren’t as solid defensively as Liverpool.
Southgate doesn’t have Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Andrew Robertson to fall back.
So where does that leave Alexander-Arnold for England?
Alexander-Arnold is often seen as an afterthought for Southgate given his embarrassment of riches at right-backCredit: Getty
Worryingly for him, it seems he might be a bit of a flat-track bully – at least on the international scene.
Trent will always get a game against San Marino or some other minnow of world football, to give the likes of James, Walker and Trippier a breather.
He will also make a great impact sub if England are ever chasing the game and in need of an attacking spark.
But should England come up against the big boys – essentially any nation in any major tournament – he could find himself on the bench.
Alexander-Arnold could, in theory, be deployed in a different position to make the most of his strengths.
For example, in a back-five there is less impetus on defending and he could therefore shine.
Unfortunately for him, that’s James’ best position – and he’s been wreaking havoc from right-wing-back for Chelsea all season.
Alexander-Arnold could be shifted into midfield in one of the more attacking spots, with Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips almost certainties in the defensive areas.
But then how do you shoehorn Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and England’s other attacking midfield superstars into the XI?
You can’t. And that’s why, you fear, Alexander-Arnold will always be a squad player for England, no matter how well he’s playing.