With new Adidas Predators on his feet, Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into quite the predator in a goal-scoring sense, too. Since signing a £26million boot deal with the German manufacturers, Liverpool’s vice-captain has put in two mercurial performances and scored two goals.
Alexander-Arnold will argue that he has scored three goals, mind. He was cruelly denied one in Liverpool’s from-behind win against Fulham on Sunday as his near-perfect free-kick bounced in off goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s head.
But there was no need to convene the Dubious Goals Panel for the other two strikes, both clean shots from distance. First, he salvaged a vital away point at champions and league leaders – at the time – Manchester City, then scored a last-gasp winner in a seven-goal thriller.
Those two strikes have earned Liverpool three points, a valuable draw on the road and a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat when Marco Silva’s Fulham threatened to pull off one of the greatest smash-and-grab wins in recent memory. Those points could be pivotal in the title race.
Fulham would have been the first side since late October 2022 to win at Anfield in the league, after Leeds, but instead the Kop was left toasting to Alexander-Arnold and chanting about ‘the Scouser in the team’, with the local lad lapping up all the praise that came his way.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into one of Liverpool’s most fearsome goalscorers
Alexander-Arnold’s recent goals have helped Liverpool in crucial matches this season
That ‘Scouser in the team’ is now more crucial than ever to success for both Liverpool and England this year, with him maturing into a leader on and off the field after spending time in the off-season plotting how to start a new personal cycle of success for club and country.
Alexander-Arnold chose to go to an individual training camp in Portland, Oregon in the summer and spent time reflecting on how to improve. His general target for the season was to play a pivotal role in returning Liverpool to glory, and also leading England to Euro 2024 success.
He often has the maturity to proactively reach out to coaches and ask them for advice, with Gareth Southgate and assistant Steve Holland on that list. Klopp and right-hand man Pepijn Lijnders have also been crucial in giving guidance, with Alexander-Arnold a studious player.
Both Klopp and Southgate have told the player that he will be integrated into more of a creative role in the coming year or so, which is reflected in Alexander-Arnold being named as a ‘midfielder’ on official documents when England name their squads for international camps.
It is not just Liverpool and England who see Alexander-Arnold as a global star. Adidas recently signed him up on a multi-year deal to make him one of the faces of their next generation alongside Jude Bellingham and Barcelona’s Pedri. He will get his own signature range of boots.
He knew he could improve leadership attributes, too. During a training session at the Singapore National Stadium in July, Klopp called Alexander-Arnold over for a quick chat. The full-back thought it would be about tactics but, instead, he was told he was to be the new vice-captain.
From that point on, the boyhood Liverpool fan knew he had to step up. He was already an influential figure in the dressing room but Alexander-Arnold has spent time working on his leadership qualities this season, taking on an unofficial mentoring role for younger stars.
On the pitch, the 25-year-old is growing as a midfield maestro. It would be amiss to ignore that his strolls into central areas sometimes leave Liverpool slightly exposed on their right flank. On Sunday, 44.8 per cent of Fulham’s attacks came down that side, a clear game-plan from Silva.
The Englishman’s strike against Fulham snatched victory for Liverpool at Anfield
Alexander-Arnold has been wearing the new Adidas Predators for Liverpool recently
But the qualities Alexander-Arnold brings in an attacking and play-making sense almost outweigh the defensive frailties it might cause in Liverpool’s system. He had 102 touches against Fulham and dictated play from the middle.
‘He is the heartbeat of the team, he has a bit of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso about him,’ said Jermaine Jenas on Match of the Day 2, with fellow pundit Leon Osman adding that it could be time for Alexander-Arnold to move to a full-time midfielder.
Playing in midfield is nothing new for the boy who often featured there for Liverpool’s youth teams. But after excelling in an attacking sense from full-back, there is a real feeling he can form a formidable trio with Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in Germany next summer.
He has begun starring for the Reds in midfield since being deployed in a more creative role
Many former youth coaches speak of Alexander-Arnold’s ability to absorb information and learn from mistakes. Lijnders and Holland have spent a generous amount of time on training pitches helping him understand the tactical nuances of the game.
‘When he has the ball at his feet and he is free he can put the ball wherever he wants,’ said captain Virgil van Dijk on Alexander-Arnold. ‘That is a big quality, we all know that and opponents know it as well.’
Alexander-Arnold knows that, at 25, he is still young and has plenty of areas to improve on. But as the Match of the Day 2 pundits agreed, he is turning into the heartbeat of Liverpool’s team, and he can follow suit for England, too. For both club and country, the sky is the limit.
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.