Can Trent Alexander-Arnold Become Liverpool’s Greatest Player Ever?

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Historically, Liverpool has had some phenomenal players in the club’s history. Names like Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, and even Steven Gerrard spring to mind. Some might even want to include modern-day stars such as Luis Suarez, Xabi Alonso, Sadio Mane, or Mohamed Salah on that list. More than one of Jurgen Klopp’s current day batch of trophy-winning, mentality monsters will probably see their names put on that list when it is all said and done.

And I think that come to the end of his career, we will remember one player from the current squad as the best of all time.

THE EARLY YEARS

Trent Alexander Arnold is a local boy. Having grown up in the shadows of the Anfield Stadium, he dreamed of one day being able to pull on the famous red jersey. Having had his name drawn from a hat at school, he attended a try-out of sorts for Liverpool FC. It was there he was spotted and eventually signed to the club’s academy. Trent had taken his first steps towards fulfilling that dream.

At a youth level, Alexander Arnold played everywhere. He played on a wing in his early years at Liverpool. In his early teen’s Pep Lijnders played him in the number 6 position (defensive midfield). It was early in his first season with the under-18s that LFC moved him to right back.

trent alexander arnold

The coaching staff, and Trent himself, decided that would be the path of least resistance to making the first team. It would be a fateful decision.

Alexander Arnold would make his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in an EFL Cup clash at Anfield. Starting at right back, he had some early nerves, picking up a booking less than half an hour in. Trent would play 65 minutes in that match. He would later tell James Pearce of the Athletic:

“I was just eager to impress. The occasion got to me a little bit.”

THE FIRST TEAM

The occasions would just get bigger for the lad from West Derby. Just a couple of months later, Trent found out he was making his Premier League debut against Manchester United. With only a couple of hours to prepare, Alexander Arnold would put in a performance that showed he was something special.

This time he would avoid the referees’ book and play the full 90 minutes. Not only that, he more than held his own. Believe it or not, at the time, his opponent, Anthony Martial, was more highly rated than Trent. In 2022, that is a ridiculous sentence to write.

He would score his first Liverpool goal later that calendar year.

It would come against Hoffenheim in the third round of Champions League qualifying with a beautiful free kick. The regular free kick taker at the time was Philippe Coutinho. His absence and a little gentle prodding from his captain and his coach made sure Trent could showcase his prowess at set-pieces. It would fast become a trademark of the young right-back’s play.

The 2017/18 season would see Alexander Arnold establish himself as a first-team regular. He would make 19 appearances in the league and become a mainstay in the Champions League as the Reds made the final. It wouldn’t end the way Trent may have wanted, but it was still an incredible feat for the then 19-year-old. And the heartbreak of that defeat would be the catalyst for something truly spectacular the following season for both Alexander Arnold and the Reds.

THE RECORD BREAKER

The Reds would push Manchester City the whole way, accruing 94 points in the English Premier League. Incredibly, that would see them fall short of breaking their title drought by a solitary point. They would return to the Champions League final and this time be victorious. Defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

With his family and friends all watching on, Trent had picked up his first major winner’s medal with his boyhood club, aged just 20. Four months before his 21st birthday he had emulated one of his heroes, Steven Gerrard, by becoming a European Champion. He also had established himself as one of the finest providers of assists in the world. He laid on 12 goals in league football and a further four on the continent.

Liverpool would kick on the following season. An incredible first half of the year had talk of an invincible season being bandied about. Trent would play every game of the 2019/20 season as Liverpool finally broke their league title drought. They wouldn’t go undefeated in a season that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they would romp the title. The Scouse right back would break his own record for league assists in a season that year, setting up 13 goals for his teammates.

He would add the UEFA Supercup and Club World Cup to his growing haul of winner’s medals as well.

The domestic cup double Liverpool has achieved this season, ensured Trent Alexander Arnold became the youngest player to pick up every winner’s medal available to him. And at 23, his best football is yet to come. Make no mistake about it, we are seeing the early stages of the greatest player to pull on a Liverpool shirt in the club’s history. Remember where you heard it first.

Stuart Kavanagh is an up-and-coming sports journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website thepyrrhic.com, he is also the co-host of the ‘After Extra Time’ podcast. Football mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.

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