Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday he backs Trent Alexander-Arnold to handle the pressure of World Cup football after the defender was included in England boss Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar.
While long lauded for his attacking ability, many pundits, including former England full-back Gary Neville, have questioned the 24-year-old Alexander-Arnold’s defensive skills.
And it was only a recent injury to Chelsea’s Reece James that increased the likelihood of Southgate, who announced his squad on Thursday, selecting full-back Alexander-Arnold for the finals.
“I am not sure he was in doubt but with all the discussions – at least the discussions I followed – if everyone had been available it was likely you don’t take four right-backs,” Klopp told reporters before Liverpool’s match at home to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
“I don’t know exactly why we have this discussion but it’s fine. When you have the choice between four or five – and (Kyle) Walker is kind of fit and Reece James obviously is not available — I think Gareth is very happy he has Trent as well.”
“Trent took it, he is very calm. He plays the football he plays, tries to improve, tries to develop, but I think he would have been disappointed if he had not been there.”
German boss Klopp, long an advocate of the all-round game of Alexander-Arnold, the youngest player to start three Champions League finals (all in five years) when he was still 23 years and 233 days old.
“There is a lot of talk around these kind of things,” said the Reds manager.
“I heard now Gary Neville said something about him not being able to play in the knockout games but Trent Alexander-Arnold is now 24 and he won quite a few finals, that is a very important game where you have to defend.
“We played (League Cup and FA Cup) finals against Chelsea last year, both finals were incredibly intense, top-class players, world-class players in moments better than players you face in the World Cup, like in the (Champions League) finals we played against Tottenham and Real Madrid and he always was there, always defended well.”