Premier League • England

Ferdinand storms to the defence of Alexander-Arnold, slamming ‘disrespectful’ critic who showed ‘cheek’ with brutal put-down

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold

Rio Ferdinand slammed the “disrespectful” Frank Leboeuf following his stinging criticism of Trent Alexander-Arnold, and revealed what his former managers used to say about the Frenchman.

Alexander-Arnold remains something of an enigma for England and Gareth Southgate. The right-back is an integral part of everything Liverpool do well going forward. However, at international level he rarely gets a kick.

England do have an embarrassment of riches in his position. Indeed, Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier are all fantastic players in their own right.

However, none of them can influence a game going forward as Alexander-Arnold can, making Southgate’s latest exclusion of him even more puzzling.

England have looked stale of late, scoring just once in their last five matches and failing to win any of them.

Alexander-Arnold was called up for the Nations League clashes against Italy and Germany. However, he did not play a single minute in the defeat to Italy and was left out of the squad to face Germany on Monday night.

Offering an explanation as to why he continues to be overlooked, ex-Chelsea centre-back and former France international, Frank Leboeuf, delivered a brutal put-down.

“Look at Trent Alexander-Arnold. I love the guy, his offensive qualities. But defensively, he’s Championship level,” Frank Leboeuf told Journal du Dimanche.

“Only Klopp’s system works for him. When it doesn’t work as well as it has this season, all you see is his defensive shortcomings.”

Upon hearing those remarks, Man Utd legend, Rio Ferdinand, roared to the defence of Alexander-Arnold.

“Are you winding me up?” – Ferdinand

Speaking on his FIVE YouTube channel, Ferdinand snapped back: “Even Leboeuf had the cheek to say he is a Championship defender. Are you winding me up?

“It’s disrespectful, some people get too disrespectful. Leboeuf defensively wasn’t the best by the way, so he’s got a cheek.

“When you look at Leboeuf you go ‘Unbelievable on the ball, defensively he’s alright, gives you a chance’.

“I was in team-talks against him and our gaffer would go ‘He’s unbelievable on the ball, prepare for this’. You had to do a team-talk on Lebouef, he was that good, ridiculous.

“But you would go ‘You get around him, because he will give you a chance’.

“If he was good enough defensively you wouldn’t talk about his defensive frailties. He’s saying ‘He’s a weakness defensively, get yourself right round him’.”

Should Alexander-Arnold go to Qatar?

It’s fair comment to say Alexander-Arnold does struggle defensively at times. What’s more, he’s looked disinterested when tasked with sprinting back or tracking runners on occasion at club level this season.

A common argument against his inclusion at the World Cup is Reece James is almost as good going forward, but is far better defensively.

Kyle Walker is arguably the best defensive right-back of all of Southgate’s options. His lax attempt to contain Italy goalscorer Giacomo Raspadori on Thursday night was an extremely rare lapse.

The question then remains: In what situation would TAA play?

If he wasn’t selected to start, it’s unlikely he would be brought on from the bench unless England were losing and needed a spark going forward. However, if they were losing, logic would dictate they’d push more bodies forward and Alexander-Arnold’s defensive frailties could then be exposed.

The simple fact is England have a manager who just does not fancy Alexander-Arnold.

If he doesn’t intend to use him in a meaningful role, it makes little sense taking him to Qatar given there are an abundance of other options.