Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has challenged Gareth Southgate over his decision to axe Trent Alexander-Arnold after insisting he did not understand the England coach’s thinking.
The Liverpool man was “harshly” left out of the current squad for the World Cup qualifying triple header. Southgate pointed to the full-back not playing “at the level that he found in the last couple of years”. Instead the Three Lions chief picked Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier as his right-back options. All three then had a taste of action in the wins over San Marino, Albania and Poland.
That decision has been strongly questioned by Ian Wright, saying the verdict left him confused.
Now Klopp has joined the chorus questioning Southgate and does not appear too happy at the call over Alexander-Arnold.
“I was surprised when he didn’t get the call-up. I respect the decision, of course I do. But I didn’t understand it,” Klopp said ahead of the trip to Arsenal.
“I am a manager myself, I make decisions every day, every weekend, every midweek about team selections and squad selections.
“We always make decisions that other people probably do not understand.
“If Trent Alexander-Arnold is not in the squad of England then England must have an extremely good squad, let me say it like this.
“I have no problem if my players get some criticism. They can get it from me, they can get it from other people.
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“I respect that Gareth makes his own decisions, of course, but I didn’t understand it anyway. Trent Alexander-Arnold was in the last two seasons at least, let me say the season before and the season before that, the stand out right-back in world football. That is the truth and at an unbelievable young age.
“He started the season with Covid and you can imagine it took him a while to get into the season. But from the moment when he was in the season he was one of our most consistent players and a stand-out player.
“He could play all the time, high level all these types of things, so that cannot be the reason that he was not in the squad.”
Klopp compares Alexander-Arnold situation to Messi
Klopp insists the situation draws comparisons to the legendary Lionel Messi. While he may be past his best, his talents means he’s still an automatic choice for Barcelona.
“If you compare Lionel Messi every year with his best season ever then he is not performing now like he was performing in 2005 and 2006 maybe. But he is still the world’s best player.”
Klopp also insists Alexander-Arnold can shine for England regardless of the opposition.
“It is about how you want to play. If you want to play against a deep defending side then, for sure, the crosses and the passes of Trent. I don’t know anybody who can do that like him,” he added.
“He defends on a really high level for us as well. It is not his first skill but it is not bad.”
Klopp also had to alter his training sessions during the international break. Indeed, the Reds boss said he planned without him, so convinced he was that Alexander-Arnold would get the England call.
However, he was pleased to see Alexander-Arnold highly motivated when he joined in.
“We had sessions planned for after the call-ups when players who were going on their national duties had time off and Trent was in that group, just to show how surprised I was about it,” Klopp added.
“He trained at an extremely high level and he showed a reaction when there is no need to do so. Trent was really ‘in’ the sessions so that was good.
“He enjoyed the sessions a lot. He is a very ambitious boy and I know he wants to be in the England squad and he will try everything to be there again.”