Trent Alexander-Arnold now founds himself listed as a midfielder when England get together, with the Liverpool star, now 25, fighting to show that his prodigious talent can finally shine through on the international stage
Considering his prodigious talent, considering he has been a shining light for Liverpool for so long, it seems strange to say Trent Alexander-Arnold is waiting for his England career to take off.
Has there been, in recent memory, a 25-year-old player who has compiled such a stellar back-catalogue of performances and achievements for a truly elite club … yet failed to truly crack it on the international stage?
Forget the debate about Alexander-Arnold’s defensive fallibilities, 17 England starts – and four substitute appearances – represents a paltry tally for such a luminous talent. And it says a lot when he admits his finest game for England came in the 4-0 away win against Malta – ranked 171st in the world – more than five years after making his debut for Gareth Southgate’s team.
But that match saw Southgate hand him a midfield role and the Liverpool vice-captain clearly sees that as an opportunity to finally become an integral part of the England squad. It might just give him a new lease of international life.
Ahead of the reverse fixture against the Maltese at Wembley, Alexander-Arnold explained: “The Malta game was one I felt was a big opportunity for me. I knew I needed to perform.
“I had spoken to the manager and he explained to me there could be a potential opportunity in midfield, going forward for me. When I heard those words, it ignited something within me. There was a chance for me to take it and I think that’s what I did.
“I’ve played around 20 games for England. I’ve had some opportunities, I’ve had minutes. But now, I feel like there’s a real opportunity for me, especially in a role that I think will get the best out of me.”
Having been used in a hybrid or more flexible position by Jurgen Klopp, it is clear Alexander-Arnold now sees the midfield area as his future for this England team and that is why he will be as motivated as anyone when lining up in that role at Wembley on Friday night and, possibly, in North Macedonia on Monday.
Alexander-Arnold said: “These are huge opportunities. There’s a chance for me to go and earn a starting spot at the Euros. That is where my head is at when I’m turning up to camp. Every game for me between now and the end of the season and any time I’m performing, it’s to earn a place to start in the Euros.”
And if he does finally establish himself as an automatic selection, Alexander-Arnold – a captain-elect at Anfield – wants to be in the vanguard of players that take England forward.
He said: “At club level, I was part of a leadership group that consisted of Hendo, Millie, Virgil, Alisson, Robbo. A lot of them have captained their respective nations.
“I’m used to being around leaders. That kind of responsibility is something that will always bring the best out of me. I do have high ambitions, massive ambitions, for club and country.
“Being a leader within both set-ups is something I have always dreamed of. I do also believe that dreams do come true if you work hard enough for them.”
And after the disappointments and the debates, after the measly 21 caps, it is nice to know that one of England’s best players is still dreaming.
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Olivia Martin is a dedicated sports journalist based in the UK. With a passion for various athletic disciplines, she covers everything from major league championships to local sports events, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis.