John Barnes has suggested on talkSPORT that Trent Alexander-Arnold could develop into a midfield player in the future, but the Liverpool ace is better sticking to playing at right-back.
Gareth Southgate has sparked a vast debate on the 22-year-old’s role after fielding him in midfield for England. The experiment proved short-lived, however, with the Three Lions boss moving Alexander-Arnold back to full-back at half-time against Andorra.
Alexander-Arnold even admitted he struggled occupying a role in the England engine room during their World Cup qualifier. The Liverpool product found it a challenge to get on the ball and influence proceedings in the right areas.
Jurgen Klopp has exclusively fielded Alexander-Arnold at right-back for Liverpool so far this season. His decision has returned three assists in five games, with the 14-cap international free to advance on the right-flank, get on the ball and display his talents to the full.
Barnes would suggest Alexander-Arnold sticks to playing full-back for Liverpool and England if given the choice. The Reds icon is confident he has the talent to play in midfield, but the differences in the role would require a complete change to his approach to the game.
“He’s a right-back, that’s what he is,” Barnes said. “And because he likes to go forward, people translate that to ‘let’s play him in midfield’. The midfield position is very different to the full-back position, where he’s very good at coming onto the ball at pace.
“[In] midfield, you’ve got to play with your back to play. You’ve got to play one-touch, you’ve got to play short, you’ve got to mix your game up. As to whether he can be a midfield player in the future, possibly. However, right-back is his best position, he’s a good attacking right-back.”
Should Liverpool make Alexander-Arnold a midfielder, despite Barnes’ view?
Klopp’s midfield options reduced this summer with Georginio Wijnaldum leaving at the end of his contract and no replacements arriving. The German’s depth rescinded further with Harvey Elliott requiring surgery on a fracture–dislocation of his left ankle.
Liverpool could, therefore, look to develop Alexander-Arnold into a midfielder like England tried, despite Barnes’ view of the experiment. It would afford Klopp further options and hand the full-back more opportunities to learn how to play the role.
But, like Barnes says, Alexander-Arnold thrives when attacking the ball with pace from the full-back position. He struggled against Andorra and returned to right-back at half-time as he could not do what he is best at. Southgate saw that, and will likely look to keep him at full-back now. And so should Klopp, even if the Reds are with fewer engine room options.