Last night proved two things about Trent Alexander-Arnold: First, that he has the potential to be a genuinely world-class offensive right-back. Second, that we have nobody in the squad capable of doing anything nearly as positive down the same flank from defence.
The 20-year-old delivered three assists with his wand of a right-foot, but his overall contribution to our attacking play was similarly excellent. Mo Salah is far, far better when Trent’s on the field – as the youngster plays smart first-time balls around the back of the opponent left-back, which the Egyptian can chase. He also fizzes the ball into Salah’s feet, instead of taking the easy option of recycling possession around the backline.
When Trent isn’t in the side, we lack dynamism, creativity and a proper overlapping threat down the right. The matches he’s missed this season have proven that. Joe Gomez is a very good defensive right-back, but obviously cannot do what his team-mate can in the opposition half. Anyway, long-term, we want Gomez alongside Virgil van Dijk at centre-back.
James Milner is a decent stand-in, but what he provides in work-rate and positional nous, he lacks in moments of creative quality. During our game at Old Trafford, the vice-captain had acres of space down the right, but not once put in a genuinely dangerous delivery.
Fabinho, the other option, simply has to play in midfield. His performances at no.6 are becoming better on a weekly basis and we reckon by next season, he’ll be competing with Fernandinho for the title of the Premier League’s best anchorman.
Nathaniel Clyne being sent on loan to Bournemouth when Trent was injured proves he’s not in Klopp’s long-term plans.
We badly need a player can burst forward and shine offensively when we haven’t got Trent to call upon. This is a position we’d look at as a priority come the end of this campaign. Matt Doherty from Wolves would be an excellent rotation option who’s already proven himself this term, but we imagine there’ll be a big price-tag on his head and that better value could be found elsewhere.
At left-back, we similarly need decent backup for Andy Robertson, with Alberto Moreno set to leave on a free transfer.
Fullback is such a key position for us, as our ‘wide-men’ like to play centrally. They have to be very good creators or we can look blunt.
Let’s see if Klopp agrees come the end of the season!