Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold will hope to make his competitive England debut in Russia.
Liverpool teenage sensation Trent Alexander-Arnold was a surprise inclusion in manager Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad, but going by his eye-catching performances for the Reds in 2017-18, he definitely deserves the spot.
As the Three Lions crashed out of the World Cup during the group stage in Brazil four years ago, a 15-year-old Alexander-Arnold would never have pictured himself on the plane to Russia even in his wildest dreams.
The 19-year-old wasn’t even close to the national team heading into last season either, given the plethora of options available at the back for England.
However, an excellent campaign, which culminated in him playing in a Champions League final, saw him force his way into Southgate’s plans last minute.
Back in 2014, Alexander-Arnold was still coming through the ranks at the Liverpool academy, while he was a member of the England U16s.
Having impressed with the Reds youth teams, the right-back was handed his senior debut in October 2016 – during a 2-1 EFL Cup fourth-round win over Tottenham.
Alexander-Arnold impressed in his next match – an EFL Cup win over Leeds United – emerging as man-of-the-match after assisting Divock Origi’s opener in the 2-0 victory.
He made his first Premier League start in January 2017, helping to keep Anthony Martial quiet in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Alexander-Arnold ended the 2016-17 campaign with 12 appearances across all competitions, while he emerged as Liverpool’s Young Player of the Season – an award he won again at the end of 2017-18.
The youngster started the campaign as backup to Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez, and only played seven league games before the turn of the year.
However, having shown flashes of his quality on both the domestic and continental stages, including his cracker of a freekick against Hoffenheim, Alexander-Arnold made the right-back berth permanently his, finishing the campaign with two goals and two assists in 31 appearances across all competitions.
Since earning the praises of Steven Gerrard in his autobiography during his under-16 days, the versatile youngster has gone on to make a meteoric rise to the top, and is set to give Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier a run for the money in the right wing-back role at Russia.
Having already trained twice with the senior team after being invited to the camp in March for the friendlies against Italy and Netherlands, Alexander-Arnold had given Southgate a selection headache after he witnessed his brilliance first-hand, and it won’t be surprising if he is handed opportunities at the World Cup.
The Liverpool academy graduate has already established himself as his club’s first choice right-back at such a young age, and not many will bet against him doing so on the international scene.
From being just another player in the Liverpool youth ranks four years ago, to landing himself a spot on the plane to Russia, Alexander-Arnold’s swift rise within two World Cup years is one that will surely go down in football folklore.