Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided more assists in a single season than any defender in Premier League history, but his underlying statistics are even more impressive.
The 21-year-old’s brace of assists in the 3-2 win over West Ham on February 24 brought his campaign’s tally to 12 in the league; already the second time he has done so.
No other defender since the league’s inception has managed this feat, and so far this season only 12 players in Europe have set up as many goals.
Across Europe’s top five leagues—the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1—this number is reduced to just six: Luis Alberto (13), Angel Di Maria (13), Christopher Nkunku (13), Jadon Sancho (16), Thomas Muller (16) and Kevin De Bruyne (17).
Alexander-Arnold has recorded as many league assists as Lionel Messi, with the next-closest defender being Borussia Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi with 10; only one other has more than Europe’s fourth-best Andy Robertson (seven).
The right-back’s creativity and delivery is a key outlet for Liverpool, but his involvement cannot be solely defined by the assist charts.
According to Opta, no player across Europe’s top five leagues has posted more ‘secondary assists’ (otherwise known as hockey assists) than the Reds’ No. 66:
8 – The most 'secondary assists' in Europe's top five divisions this season, where a player makes the pass to the player who then assists the goal:
8 | Julian Brandt
8 | Thiago Alcântara
8 | Sergio Busquets
8 | Jadon Sancho
8 | Trent Alexander-Arnold
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 18, 2020
Combining assists and ‘secondary assists’, Alexander-Arnold has played a direct role in 20 goals in the Premier League this season; his two goals scored lift that to 22.
Of the other four players to produce eight ‘secondary assists’ in Europe’s top five leagues, only Sancho (24) has created more along with their official assists.
Julian Brandt (16), Sergio Busquets (10) and Thiago Alcantara (eight) are considerably further behind, with Thiago yet to record a direct assist in the Bundesliga this term.
Only De Bruyne (96), Dimitri Payet (87) and Angel Di Maria (78) have created more chances in Europe’s top five leagues than Alexander-Arnold (75), whose influence is remarkable.
This is particularly impressive given his age and his position, though there is a clear emphasis on both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson to push forward as Liverpool’s providers on the flanks.
With nine games left to play in the Premier League—provided it resumes as expected—there is every chance the right-back surpasses his record assist tally by a wide margin.
Based on his current average, he would finish the campaign with 16, and combined with ‘secondary assists’ this would result, conservatively, in 26.
Phenomenal numbers from one of world football’s finest young talents.