Liverpool

Liverpool

Premier League • England

Jurgen Klopp slaughtered over handling of Liverpool ace who still possesses worrying weakness

Former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Sam Allardyce

Jurgen Klopp has remarkably been taken to task over his failure to improve one aspect in a Liverpool ace’s game that will now cause problems for Arne Slot and potentially England too.

Klopp called time on his storied Liverpool career at the nine-year mark. The legendary German has elected to take a sabbatical from the game and his agent, Marc Kosicke, has repeatedly rubbished talk of an early return to management. Tentative links over a return to Germany with RB Leipzig were the latest to be quashed by the agent.

Klopp helped Liverpool end their 30-year wait for a top flight title. He also guided Liverpool to three Champions League finals – winning one – and lifted every major honour Liverpool competed for during his tenure aside from the Europa League.

Many a player took their game to new heights under Klopp’s guidance, with right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold becoming a creative juggernaut from deep, to name just one.

However, the 25-year-old continues to receive criticism for his perceived inability to defend and it’s fair to say he is the weak link in Liverpool’s backline when out of possession.

Nonetheless, Klopp was content to absorb the odd defensive lapse if it meant Alexander-Arnold continued to produce the goods going forward. Few would argue Klopp was wrong to make that call given the success Liverpool experienced during his tenure.

But according to former Everton and England boss, Sam Allardyce, Klopp must shoulder the blame for failing to improve Alexander-Arnold as an all-round footballer.

Allardyce takes aim at Klopp

Speaking to the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, Allardyce revealed his disbelief as Alexander-Arnold’s defensive stagnation despite working under Klopp year after year.

Allardyce did laud Alexander-Arnold for his ball-playing abilities, though could not ignore the elephant in the room.

“Trent Alexander-Arnold’s weakest point is his defending,” stated Allardyce. “It is difficult to understand that Jurgen Klopp was at Liverpool for so long and we still haven’t seen his defending get any better.

“When Liverpool had a tough time with injuries, he got exposed more than ever. He is a fantastic player and he’s brilliant on the ball. He can thread a 60-yard pass as well as anyone else can play a ball 20 yards, that’s how good his passing is.

“In the three-year period where Liverpool were winning the Premier League and Champions League he hardly ever had to defend. That part of his game never really got exposed until they got a lot of injuries and started losing games.”

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Alexander-Arnold can be a revelation in England midfield

Alexander-Arnold is in line to start for England when they open their Euro 2024 account against Serbia on Sunday.

But rather than feature in his customary right-back position, Gareth Southgate is expected to play Alexander-Arnold alongside Declan Rice in midfield.

Allardyce went on to talk up a midfield selection as a worthy compromise and dashed any notion playing Alexander-Arnold in a more advanced role would be a mistake.

“He got slaughtered for his defending but it looks like he’s overcome that due to the fact that he can also play in midfield,” continued the 69-year-old.

“People will say that he won’t be as effective as Declan Rice or Jude Bellingham in midfield, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

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