Liverpool first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders has heaped praise on young right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, as the teenager continues his rise.
Alexander-Arnold has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign under Jurgen Klopp in 2016/17, with the 18-year-old making nine appearances for the first team so far.
He has also been named on the substitutes’ bench on a further 10 occasions, highlighting Klopp’s faith in a player who was until recently turning out for the club’s U18s.
Prior to that, he was Lijnders’ captain at U16 level, and speaking to Goal this week, the Dutchman highlighted just why he had been fast-tracked to a first-team role.
Lijnders described Alexander-Arnold as “one of the most all-round talents in Europe,” which could give him a good grounding in competing with Nathaniel Clyne for a starting berth.
“He has something extra, a certain insight and creativity that makes him able to play unpredictable passes,” he said.
“He is quick in mind, knows what’s going to happen and has the capacity to improvise—this opens up situations for himself or for others.
“Our playing idea is to create chance after chance, from each position taking this initiative. A right defender who can create and can dominate the complete right channel.
“In my opinion, he is one of the most all-round talents in Europe with a ‘team first’ attitude.
“When he was my captain at U16 level, he was able to control rhythm and make the team play like no-one else.
“Some people are born to become a football player; he is definitely one of them.”
Alexander-Arnold’s progress has been mirrored by another teenager, Welsh forward Ben Woodburn, and Lijnders believes the duo’s remarkable attitude is behind their swift rise in Klopp’s regime.
“I use Ben and Trent as a example often because they really are one,” Lijnders continued.
“They help prove a lot of modern misconceptions in football wrong: that you have to be a certain age, a certain size.
“That you first have to go on loan and so on before you can get into the first team.
“If you see them after each session and how long they stay on the pitch—not just shooting on goal, crossing and heading and doing the nice things—they always challenge each other to become technically and tactically better.
“They are completely different players and personalities, but they define exactly our approach.
“Anfield is screaming out for young unpredictable players, who can open up games and speed up the tempo of the positional play.
“That’s a wonderful characteristic they both have in common.”
Both are set for bright futures under Klopp, and with Lijnders’ backing, they can hope for a starring role on Merseyside for many seasons to come.