Liverpool great John Barnes isn’t sure Trent Alexander-Arnold is at his best when he’s used in the central role he took on last season.
After drawing criticism for a string of defensive setbacks as Liverpool failed to challenge Manchester City last season, Alexander-Arnold switched to a central role in the final weeks of the season.
Liverpool have won seven of their last nine Premier League games to finish fifth. The streak began with Alexander-Arnold providing two assists in a 6-1 thrashing of Leeds United, moving from right-back to a hybrid role.
Alexander-Arnold then played in midfield during England’s wins over Malta and North Macedonia last month, but Barnes is unsure if that will become his permanent position.
“It depends on the games whether you can dominate the position,” Barnes told Stats Perform. “Maybe when you play against City you can’t do that.
“We’re going to get a right back and will Trent play in midfield or will (he) go into midfield with the ball?
“When he goes into midfield, if you lose the ball, can he get back to right-back? It really depends on what they want and how they see it.
“Trent is probably better at right-back in terms of the crosses he makes for people to score. Playing in midfield, he still creates more from the right-back position.
“We can look at this situation and say we don’t have a midfield player who can make that kind of pass, but we’re losing what he has on the right flank in terms of his passing.”
Trent x Cody pic.twitter.com/f77kCQ5Ipo
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 23, 2023
With Liverpool bolstering their midfield by signing Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Soboslay, Barnes believes Alexander-Arnold no longer needs to play in the centre.
“I don’t think Trent creates more goalscoring opportunities in this role. But again, it really depends on the need,” he added.
“Now that we have midfield players, I would be surprised. We can still do it in exceptional cases, but I think it was more out of necessity than anything else.
However, former Liverpool midfielders Lucas Leiva and Gary McAllister believe that Alexander-Arnold has the qualities to be a good option in any position.
“I think Trent has shown he has the quality to play in midfield,” Lucas said. “As a full-back you have a little more time with the ball because in midfield you are always under pressure.
“But Trent can play both positions, which is very good. This gives another option for Jürgen (Klopp), depending on the game and the system.
“Of course he is capable of it. I look forward to it also because every year Trent is getting better and better. He is a world class player but he is still very young and going into midfield shows he is even better.”
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) July 13, 2023
McAllister echoed Lucas’ thoughts, adding, “First of all, he has the ability and such an amazing range of passing.
“But I am sure that Jurgen will be very careful not to take away his ability to make high and wide passes for attackers.
“Being able to adapt with Trent in two or three different positions is a huge bonus for Jurgen. I thought it was very interesting to watch him get out of the game.
“I thought he was outstanding and that was in line with the fact that Liverpool ended the season really well. He made a dozen passes that no one else in the league could.