Jurgen Klopp has praised the step up in responsibility taken by Trent Alexander-Arnold this season, having gone “from a young, world-class talent to a defensive organiser.”
Despite suffering with illness and injury, only three players have clocked more minutes for Liverpool this term than their right-back.
Only five have made more appearances than Alexander-Arnold, who has started 29 of 30 games in the Premier League and Champions League since recovering from a calf problem in December.
He has featured next to eight different centre-backs, including the inexperienced trio of Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Ozan Kabak and the out-of-position Fabinho, which has seen him take up leadership duties.
“He played a good season, the problem is he played with roundabout 20-odd different centre-half pairings, which is just tricky,” Klopp said on Tuesday.
“He’s still a young player and he has a much bigger part in organising the last line than he had previously, which means from a young, world-class talent to a defensive organiser.
“It’s a step, but he did that as well. So yes, he’s in a good moment as well, and long may it continue.
“For us, it’s very important. Without Trent’s shape we would be in a different place, definitely.”
Not only has Alexander-Arnold increased his responsibilities in defence, but in recent weeks his form has improved dramatically, with a goal and four assists in his last seven league games.
One of those assists came with an inch-perfect corner for Alisson‘s last-minute winner at West Brom on Sunday, and his manager has hailed the delivery.
“This was a world-class corner. Not the first, hopefully not the last of Trent’s,” Klopp continued.
“Nat Phillips could have scored if he would have left his eyes open; if Ali had missed the ball I think Sadio was in a quite interesting position.
“So that [was how] good the corner was, and we shouldn’t take these kinds of things for granted.
“We saw brilliant players, world-class players, in decisive moments delivering a rather average set-piece, because it’s quite common that in the last second of the game there’s another free-kick or corner or whatever.
“The cross made it happen. Ali only had to put his head on it, but he did that quite well as well!”