This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Gary Lineker has said that he would like to see Trent Alexander-Arnold play in a similar role to Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.
Alexander-Arnold is one of Liverpool’s most creative players – last season, he picked up 16 assists in all competitions as the Reds won the Champions League title despite being a right-back, a position more associated with defending.
Former England striker Lineker, though, has insinuated that he would like to see the 21-year-old take up a more central position in midfield like the Belgium international.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 6, 2019
This is not the first time Alexander-Arnold has been compared to de Bruyne.
Jamie Carragher told talkSPORT last month: “On the ball, he is probably better than what Liverpool have in those players. Those players have different strengths, but you could imagine him in that De Bruyne position – just tucked in on the right. You see the assists De Bruyne has from a different position than Trent, he’s obviously wider and he’s crossing it, De Bruyne is more passing it really. Maybe that’s something we could see in the future.”
Considering the youngster’s attacking threat, it is not a comparison without logic. Last term, no Liverpool player managed as many assists as him as he picked up those 16 in all competitions, whilst he also created 1.7 chances per game in the Premier League compared to De Bruyne’s 1.9. This term, the Manchester City midfielder leads the way again, but this time with four in the top tier compared to 3.6.
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In the middle of the park, there is of course the possibility that he would be more of an attacking threat. However, the system Liverpool use requires the full-backs to contribute heavily going forward. It is interesting to note that, whilst Alexander-Arnold had the most assists last season, left-back Andrew Robertson was second with 13. The Merseyside native also made two crosses per game, compared to the Citizens star’s 1.1.
Liverpool picked up 97 points in the top flight last term and won the Champions League, and so far, they top both the English first division and their group in Europe’s premier club competition. Why is there any need to change things? Alexander-Arnold contributes more than enough already and, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Playing in the middle of the park, he would likely need to work on other parts of his game, especially if it were to be in a similar role to the former Chelsea man. For example, £117m-rated De Bruyne has 1.7 dribbles per match this term, whilst the seven-time England international has 0.6. At right-back in Jurgen Klopp’s set-up, he does not need to beat his man as much. Instead, he often crosses the ball from deep, to great effect.
Central midfield is more glamorous, but there is nothing wrong with being a creative full-back. Dani Alves, for example, regularly notched over 10 assists a campaign during his best years at Barcelona, and there weren’t any calls for him to move into the middle. Liverpool’s system works almost perfectly at the moment. There is no need to change it so dramatically.