Legendary right-back Cafu, widely considered one of the greatest of all time, claims he “doesn’t understand” the criticism of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Over 11 years in Europe with Roma and AC Milan, and a 16-year international career with Brazil, Cafu established himself among the world’s most accomplished right-backs.
That included twice winning the World Cup, twice the Serie A title and once the Champions League – that being the victory over Liverpool in Athens in 2007.
He is in a strong place to judge others in his position – although his judgment of Jon Flanagan may have been clouded by the Scouser’s tongue-in cheek nickname – and that extends of Liverpool’s No. 66.
Alexander-Arnold, one of the finest creative players in football, remains a peripheral figure for England, amid criticism of his defensive work for both club and country.
And speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Cafu compared the 24-year-old’s situation to that of himself and Roberto Carlos throughout their careers.
“I don’t understand why [he attracts criticism],” the Brazilian said.
“He’s the full package: he has quality, dribbling skills and pace.
“But it’s always the same thing. They say you don’t defend and sit you [out].
“They used to do the same thing to me and Roberto Carlos, but I’d argue we managed to win something anyway.”
Alexander-Arnold is not expected to start in England’s final game of the World Cup group stage, though Gareth Southgate is due to make changes against Wales.
Instead, he is likely to settle for a place on the bench again, having gone unused in both the 6-2 win over Iran and the 0-0 draw with the United States.
It is a remarkable blind spot for Southgate, as is also the case with the prodigious Phil Foden, with the England manager somehow not able to see what Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola can.
Klopp has built his side around the creativity of Alexander-Arnold, and it has brought Liverpool astonishing success, while the scrutiny over his defending is, in a word, excessive.
Cafu is the latest in a long line of admirers of the Englishman, at a time when he remains marginalised by his national team manager.