Liverpool’s greatest weapon has evolved yet again, adding a level of playing element with Xabi Alonso
Trent Alexander-Arnold loves passes.
This is not news at this point.
The right-back has recently made headlines for his ability to pick a pass from just about anywhere on the pitch, as exemplified in the 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates in the second leg of the half. EFL Cup final.
Alexander-Arnold threw a 40-yard pass in the direction of Diogo Jota, who controlled it and guided the ball into the corner of Arsenal’s goal with the most deft of touches.
We’ve started seeing a new side at right-back recently; his game is evolving and that is reflected in the data.
The 23-year-old is best known for his attacking mentality and his David Beckham style of crossing a football.
Many of his assists for Liverpool in recent seasons have come from whipping the ball from crossing positions, corners and free-kicks.
But now he’s starting to spray balls deep, like Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso and Toni Kroos.
According to analytics website StatsBomb, Alexander-Arnold is among the best in the game at every passing level.
Looking at the combined stats for passing around and through opponents, he is level with Man Utd’s Bruno Fernandes on 0.6 assists per 90 minutes and slightly better than Florian Wirtz on 0.5p90.
Alexander-Arnold and Fernandes are tied for second among all players for playing at least 12 games in Europe’s top five leagues, with only Barcelona’s Gavi leading the way with 0.8p90.
What’s extraordinary is that Alexander-Arnold is the only defender in a chart full of midfielders, showing just how dominant he really becomes in passing and how integral it is to his game.
As hinted in a previous article, this could point to a change in position later in his career once his legs started to decline after years of playing at right-back.
It also makes Alexander-Arnold’s development an even bigger nightmare for defenders. Given his quality over long distances, opposition managers may ask their players to stay close to him.
This, indeed, could free up space for other Liverpool players, as one of the opponents will have to run out of position to get close to Alexander-Arnold.
His ability to go short or long is another added bonus for Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp. If bypassing the opposition’s backline isn’t working, then maybe overriding it.
Going forward, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Alexander-Arnold repeat carbon copies of Jota’s goal in north London. Moreover, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the England international top the combined passing charts by the end of the season.
He’s set to break his career high for most assists in a single season, and as his game continues to evolve over the next few years, Alexander-Arnold could be seen as the model for a new generation of right-backs, like a player who can do it all.