Premier League • England

Graeme Souness predicts Liverpool ‘problem’ with questions to be answered over key star’s role

Mo Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool

Mo Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool

Graeme Souness is full of praise for the ability of Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold but feels he will struggle in midfield against the best teams.

Alexander-Arnold, 25, has become an important member of the Liverpool side under Jurgen Klopp. After making his debut as a 17-year-old back in October 2016, the England ace has gone on to enjoy 211 Premier League outings for the Reds. Primarily a right-back, he has also been deployed in a midfield role on occasions.

And the Liverpool-born ace has proved his worth, with a number of superb displays.

With a range of passing unequalled in the English game, he is a vital cog in the Liverpool machine.

However, his defensive qualities continue to come under scrutiny.

Souness has his doubts about Alexander-Arnold’s best position but waxed lyrical about one aspect of his game.

“The last few weeks have confirmed what we have known for a long time: that in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool have the best striker of a ball within these shores,” he told The Mail.

“I see in Trent the quality that Steven Gerrard always had when it came to the delivery of the ball. An ability which is also up there with what David Beckham had.

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“Trent is on another level in today’s game – not just with that unerring accuracy when delivering from distance, but with his short passing, which is excellent.”

Souness pinpoint flaws in Alexander-Arnold game

Alexander-Arnold won his first England cap back in 2018. However, he has earned only 23 in total to date, bagging two goals for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions.

His main obstacle to an England berth has been Kyle Walker.

The Manchester City right-back has been capped 81 times and continues to excel despite his advancing years.

Walker’s defensive ability is as good as ever and, according to Souness, that is one of the areas that Alexander-Arnold still needs to work on.

“His defensive skills are not at that same level,” he added.

“Even at right back – a position from which you can often see every other player on the pitch, except your goalkeeper, and have more time to sense danger – he is not always able to anticipate the threat and respond to it in time.”

And the Liverpool legend believes those failings will become even more evident if he is exposed in the middle of the park.

“Against the weaker teams, when Liverpool are dominating the ball, that new midfield role will be perfect for Trent,” he continued.

“But against the better teams, I feel there may be a problem for him and his team.

“In that central part of the pitch, everything is happening faster than anywhere else and your thought processes need to be that much quicker.

“If you’re not calculating what will happen at full back, where there is more time, then you will certainly find it difficult to do so in the centre – against the stronger sides, at least.”

Alexander-Arnold has started 12 of his 13 top-flight appearances in 2023-2024.

And his next task will be to see if he can help the Merseysiders make it three consecutive league victories.

Klopp’s charges travel to South London to face Crystal Palace for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.

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