Gary Lineker has said that it annoys him when ‘people have a pop at’ Trent Alexander-Arnold over the defensive aspect of his game.
The £180,000-per-week Liverpool maestro has scored crucial goals in his team’s last two Premier League games, netting an 80th-minute equaliser away to Manchester City recently and coming up with the 88th-minute winner to complete a riveting quick turnaround against Fulham on Sunday.
However, the 25-year-old has also been pilloried by pundits over his defensive work, with the Match of the Day host feeling that our number 66 is overly maligned in that regard, especially when he’s so good on the ball.
Speaking on The Rest is Football podcast, Lineker said of Trent: “He ends up going to right-back and he was so good for so long that he became a right-back. It irritates me a little bit when people say he’s not very good at defending and every slight error or any goal that goes in on that side of the pitch against Liverpool.
“People have a pop at him but I think the positives of his forward play and his passing. I think he is certainly the best passer of the ball in the English game at the moment.”
In a similar vein to how many pundits in this country hammer Darwin Nunez when he misses a scorable opportunity, Trent appears to be a consistently popular target for criticism when it comes to his defending.
Granted, there are times when he can look susceptible in that regard, but to simply label him a ‘bad defender’ would be to completely ignore what he offers to Liverpool and England in terms of his use of the ball.
By utilising him in a hybrid full-back/midfield role over the past eight months, Jurgen Klopp has accepted that there’s an element of risk in doing so, but that it’s also outweighed by the potential rewards of how effective the 25-year-old can be as an attacking outlet.
You only need to look at the Reds’ last two league games to see evidence of that, and Trent seems to be embracing the responsibility of being named the club’s vice-captain in the summer. He won’t be too fussed if his detractors continue to unfairly play the ‘can’t defend’ card.