Gary Neville got down to basics when detailing a four-point plan that would help Liverpool’s under-fire Trent Alexander-Arnold become the “best right back the game has ever produced.”
The Reds star, 23, has been centre of attention for both club and country lately. He continues to be snubbed by England boss Gareth Southgate and barring injuries to the likes of Reece James, Kieran Trippier or Kyle Walker, looks certain to miss out in Qatar.
At club level, Alexander-Arnold remains a mainstay for Jurgen Klopp, though his defensive prowess is coming under the microscope more and more.
Jurgen Klopp has stressed he’s willing to accept the odd mistake here and there if the trade-off is what Alexander-Arnold brings going forward.
Initially assessing that point and putting the right-back’s attacking output in context, Gary Neville compared his own career to that of Alexander-Arnold’s on Monday night.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Neville described the Reds ace as “absolutely obscene” when looking at his assists total.
Over the past four seasons, Alexander-Arnold has notched 45 league assists from right-back. The only player to provide more is Kevin De Bruyne with 50.
Neville compared that to his own career when noting he only laid on 35 assists despite playing exactly 400 games.
TAA “one of the great talents” England has produced
“That is absolutely obscene,” said Neville. “Just to put that into perspective, I played 400 games in the Premier League and had 35 assists.
“He’s got 44 in his last four seasons at the age of 23. It is absolutely ridiculous.
“I cannot believe those numbers and to be fair Andy Robertson is only just below him to he deserves a special mention.
“What we’ve got is one of the great talents that this country has produced in his position.
“But a couple of seasons ago I thought there’d come a point where he’d have pain if Liverpool dropped off or Klopp left.”
Neville then turned his attention to the defensive side of Alexander-Arnold’s game.
Gary Neville’s four-point plan
He played a part in all three of Brighton’s goals in the 3-3 draw on Saturday. All three came down Liverpool’s right side and Neville drafted a four-point plan that can revamp Alexander-Arnold’s game when out of possession.
His plan read: ‘In transition, sprint back.
‘In one-on-one defending, keep body position low/crouched.
‘Body shape should be open when ball is on opposite side of the pitch.
‘Rotate head when defending back post and check distances.’
Explaining his advice, Neville added: “In transition, sprint back. He doesn’t always do that. He ambles back at times.
“Keep your body position low, open body shape when the ball is on the other side of the pitch and then in the box scan and rotate your head.
“What you can’t have when you’re defending one-v-one is be up right.”
Describing the position needing to be like that of a tiger ready to pounce, Neville added: “Trent finds himself in a relaxed upright [stance] and you can’t sprint from that position.
“You can’t turn. You rarely see Trent in that position. He jogs out upright. He faces the wrong way, he doesn’t scan.
“On the other side of the pitch, get your distances and body position right. If he was a bit more alert he could get out.
“He always has to go back and head it out because of his body position.”
Alexander-Arnold can be the best right-back ever
“I think these are really basic things for him,” continued Neville. “The hard part of the game he is doing.
“No full back I have ever seen in this country can do what he’ll do. If he works on those four things, we’ll have the best right back the game has ever produced.
“This is special. This is a Cafu. I would urge him to work on it for a few months. We have games all the time.
“There might be a negative in him not going to a World Cup, this could be the biggest six weeks of his career.”