Trent Alexander-Arnold has been tipped as a future captain of Liverpool Football Club, with the youngster having grown into a respected leader in the eyes of Pep Lijnders.
It’s been just under five years since the right-back made his debut at 18, but a meteoric rise ensures he has long been a key pillar in Jurgen Klopp‘s first team.
With 179 games, 10 goals and 43 assists under his belt, the now 22-year-old is considered one of the world’s best, but he was by no means an overnight success.
There were years of hard work and fine-tuning that he needed to undertake, notably harnessing his aggression and competitiveness in the right way.
And for Lijnders, who has had a front-row seat to his development, Alexander-Arnold has grown into a leader before his eyes and with the coach an avid student of Bill Shankly, he handed the right-back high praise in the words of the legendary manager.
“I’m so proud of Trent. He was this natural technical talent when he was just 15 years old,” Lijnders told LiverpoolFC.com.
“He had all the characteristics I loved: a mentality to win, passionate to improve but his emotions sometimes took control instead of him taking control over the emotions. He trained with so much power and competition.
“He grew step by step into the wonderful guy he is now, surrounded by a lovely family, he created this superb personality. He has this aggression in a positive way.
“If someone represents this quote of Bill Shankly it’s him: playing at the highest level isn’t pressure, it’s a reward.
“I still see the same fire in his eyes in each training, but I don’t see this young guy anymore; I see a leader, I see someone who controls his emotions, a future captain.
“A leader by example. The best clubs have one thing in common, a ‘one club’ mentality. The culture spreads through all departments.”
“It’s great that our talents, the real ones, can make these steps together with our team.”
Alexander-Arnold has captained Liverpool from the start on one occasion to date, against Midtjylland in the Champions League, but has readily spoken of his burning desire to lead his boyhood club on a permanent basis.
That his coaches, and no doubt teammates, have recognised his growth unrelated to having the ball at his feet speaks volumes and he already has Klopp’s backing for the armband.
“Trent is someone who will be in this kind of role in the future,” Klopp said back in December.