There are Some Footballers Who You Can Only Watch on in Awe at.
Even at Liverpool, there have only been a smattering of such figures in over 100 years of the club’s existence.
The likes of Kenny Dalglish, John Barnes, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah all spring to mind, but the same can now arguably be said of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The 25-year-old’s rise at his boyhood club has been meteoric, becoming the youngest-ever player to start in three Champions League finals, and standing out as one of the finest attacking full-backs of his generation.
Alexander-Arnold has suffered the odd blip – doesn’t everyone? – including last season, but the performances he is producing in 2023/24 are increasingly outrageous.
A Season of Redemption
After a relatively slow start to the campaign, which saw him sloppily lose possession for goals against Bournemouth and Newcastle, Alexander-Arnold has been sensational in recent months, thriving in his new hybrid role and racking up five goal contributions (two goals and three assists) in the Premier League.
Barring Kevin De Bruyne, no other player in the country has such a world-class level of vision, with some of the Scouser’s passing scarcely believable at times. The technique and vision he possesses could even be superior to Gerrard, which is the biggest compliment you can pay him.
Take Sunday’s 2-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup, for example, where Alexander-Arnold sprayed the ball for fun, including one inch-perfect long pass with his weaker left foot, having effortlessly got out of danger inside the penalty area.
He also hammered the crossbar with a rifled drive from the edge of the box, and whipped in the free-kick that led to Jakub Kiwior heading into his own net to put Liverpool 1-0 up.
Entering the Peak of Powers
Alexander-Arnold feels like a footballer coming right into the peak of his powers, having already been a world-class player for four or five years.
At 25, he is the same age his hero Gerrard was just after Istanbul, and when he single-handedly beat West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup final – just look at how much he still achieved after that point.
While the technical side of Alexander-Arnold’s game will be perfect when he’s 70, he has bulked and up found himself in the best physical shape of his career, and there is a growing aura about him on the pitch.
He has the healthy arrogance of someone who knows he is more naturally gifted than almost anyone else on either team, and there is a steeliness on show that hasn’t always been apparent.
Alexander-Arnold also looks to be thriving as vice-captain of his boyhood club – he will almost certainly take on the main job from Virgil van Djik eventually – and his displays are going to be vital in Liverpool’s quest to win as many trophies as possible this season.
Is Alexander-Arnold flawed? A little, yes. But aren’t all the greats in any walk of life?
Much like Gerrard, it is easy to envisage there being tough periods along the way, as he carries the weight of an entire city on his back, but there are also going to be so many iconic moments along the way.
Alexander-Arnold remains the creative force for Liverpool, and someone any team in the world what want in their ranks – stay away, Real Madrid! – and assuming he avoids serious injury, he is well on his way to slowly being one of the Reds’ best of all time.
Anticipation for Euro 2024
A starring role for England should also await at Euro 2024, unless Gareth Southgate inexplicably decides not to play him alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in midfield, and it is mouthwatering just thinking about what is to come from him.
There were doubts about Alexander-Arnold being used this way by Jurgen Klopp, but after taking a little time to adjust to it, he looks like one of the best players in Europe on current form.
If he can help inspire Liverpool to Premier League glory, end-of-season awards could be coming his way.