Jurgen Klopp admits he was baffled by Gareth Southgate’s decision to play “the best right-back in the world” Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield during England’s 4-0 win over Andorra in their 2022 World Cup qualifier.
The 22-year-old was played in a more advanced role even though Southgate had a number of recognised midfield options in his squad, though his experiment in the centre of the pitch did only last 45 minutes – as he then swapped with Reece James, another specialist full-back, and returned to his usual role on the right.
Alexander-Arnold has long been touted as a future midfielder, having played the position when he was a youth player. But ever since breaking into Liverpool’s side, he has played at right-back – a position his manager has long claimed he is the best in the world in.
Now, speaking to Sky Sports, Klopp admits he couldn’t understand why Alexander-Arnold would be played in midfield, adding that he feels he’s more suited to playing as a traditional number six rather than as a more advanced eight if he has to play there at all.
“In this game, in a game where England are that dominant for example, or that we are that dominant that Trent could play in midfield, I would rather he was the six than in this case the eight,” Klopp remarked.
“That is possible but why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder? I don’t understand that really. As if the right-back position is not as important as the others. People who say that I struggle to understand how you could think that.”
Klopp qualified his comments by stating that no other player had been as influential at right-back since his emergence – indeed, Alexander-Arnold has contributed 34 assists and eight goals in the Premier League from just 132 appearances.
“If you watch our games then you will see that Trent’s position has already changed,” Klopp added.
“Not in all the games but in games where it is possible, so there is no need to now make him a midfield player. It is a little bit a shame that we talk in 2021 like this about football. Players play everywhere, especially good players.
“Trent on the right wing was already everywhere on the pitch. Some people think that because he plays 10 yards further up the pitch he would be more influential. Being more influential than Trent Alexander-Arnold in the last, I don’t know, how many years he has played for me is really tricky.
“It would mean I would have to have a proper look to find somebody. He plays the right position, we adapt and try and use his skills absolutely, but in the end the right-back is the one who defends the right side and he is doing that really well.
“All the rest when we have the ball, we use him as good as we can.”