Trent Alexander-Arnold says free agent last playing in Cyprus “destroyed” him

Trent Alexander-Arnold has made a surprise claim over the toughest winger he faced that may have gone forgotten, with the winger now a free agent.

The Liverpool vice-captain took part in the club’s ‘We Are Liverpool’ podcast to kick off season two, in an in-depth interview alongside Jan Molby.

Among the questions Alexander-Arnold faced was ‘who was the best player he faced that people wouldn’t know about’, with the right-back opting for an opponent from his academy days.

“I would say Brandon Barker,” was his reply.

“He played for City, I was [an] U18s [player]. I played for U21s, first ever time, Anfield, got beat 3-0.

“I think he scored two and got an assist. I came off at 60 [minutes] and it was, still to this day, the opponent that I think just destroyed me.

“I never had it like that before. At that point I’m thinking this kid’s going to be the best player in the world.

“I’d never seen someone move so quickly and so sharp and so effectively. So I’d say Brandon Barker.”

Barker was widely acknowledged as a top talent while breaking through at Man City, and went on to make his debut as a substitute in a 5-1 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup in 2016.

But that was his sole appearance for their first team, with loans at Rotherham, NAC Breda, Hibernian and Preston before moving permanently to Rangers.

At the time, Steven Gerrard described him, as well as Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo, as a player who could “open the door” for his side in the final third.

Twenty-seven appearances at Rangers and a temporary move to Oxford United later, Barker signed a short-term deal with Reading at the start of 2022, before heading to Cyprus to join Omonia that summer.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 7, 2016: Liverpool's Ryan Kent in action against Manchester City's Brandon Baker during the Under-21 FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But with Neil Lennon sacked as Omonia manager soon after, the 27-year-old agreed to terminate his contract with the club in August, after just over a year.

Barker is now a free agent, with 156 senior appearances to his name across nine different clubs, scoring 15 goals and assisting 15.

His career path is one many players of his ilk have followed, particularly after being touted as the next great young talent breaking through.

It is likely that Barker will receive interest in his services back in England or Scotland, but Alexander-Arnold’s experience shows how difficult it can be to establish yourself at a top club.