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Tactical switch that could resolve the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield issue



This tactical change could resolve the midfield debate between Trent Alexander and Arnold

As the debate rages over whether or not to move Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield, there could be a tactical solution to please all parties.
After Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League, Jamie Carragher has reopened the eternal debate over Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Good player? Yes. I’ll be right back? “I am not sure.”

Jurgen Klopp has repeatedly ruled out the idea of ​​playing Alexander-Arnold in midfield. Gareth Southgate tried for 45 minutes and thought it was a miss.

Nevertheless, many are still calling for him to be replaced at right-back and used in midfield.

The good news is that both sides are right. Here’s how. Why it does not work

Think of the classic Liverpool setup. A 4-3-3, full-backs that fly forward, a “functional” midfielder and two devastating wingers in front of a false nine.

This midfielder’s ‘function’ is to win loose balls, assist the forward press and sprint to find cover behind the full-backs.

Imagine Alexander-Arnold on the right side of this midfield three. His job would be to anticipate dangers, win his duels 100% and play short follow-up passes. Does this all sound like his abilities?

Not according to Carragher: “We all know his defense isn’t good enough…the intensity when he presses and closes just isn’t there.”

Trent, who has also been criticized for his lack of focus (see Madrid goal from Bernabeu), seems ill-suited for the role.

Take into account that his time on the ball to play creative passes would be significantly reduced and it’s easy to see why Klopp is so against it.

why it might work

When Klopp arrived in 2015, Google searched Merseyside for the word ‘back pressure’.

The German had a reputation for playing an innovative and defined style of play. His use of Roberto Firmino as a false nine and the recruitment of two highly creative players in the full-back positions lived up to this reputation and brought the Reds a plethora of trophies.

But these days, tactical innovation seems to be happening elsewhere.
Liverpool are catching up on the midfield trend, while lopsided full-back tactics have yet to reach Anfield.
But what if it was?

Many teams have recognized that playing two full-backs overlapping can leave them vulnerable to counter-attacks. Instead, they now use asymmetrical full-backs.

Leaders Arsenal place centre-back Benjamin White on the right, while left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko turns to join Thomas Partey in midfield.
This gives Arsenal a three box three form in possession.

Reverse full-back godfather Pep Guardiola is also using the same tactic at Man City.

Left-footed Nathan Ake forms the back three, while on the right academy graduate Rico Lewis usually returns alongside Rodri. This allows both teams to dominate possession and at the same time to be particularly safe from counterattacks.

This is great for sites that challenge titles. But Carragher’s point was: “If Liverpool try to qualify for the Champions League every year, I’m not sure Trent is your man on the right flank.”

So what about these 4 best hunting sites?

Brighton have also used twisted full-backs and three-on-three form in their impressive campaign so far.
Joel Veltman slips into the bottom three while Pervis Estupinan rides similarly to Robertson. The back three and the pivot in midfield provide ample protection if caught high up the pitch.

Compare that to the classic Liverpool “2-3-5”.

Liverpool have plenty of body in midfield to capitalize on counter-pressure situations, but when they lose a clash the wide separation of centre-backs means Fabinho is left alone to cover the center of the pitch.
Should he be out of position for whatever reason, Liverpool are wide open – with both full-backs sprinting the full length of the pitch.

What if Liverpool innovated their own version of the trend? One option could be to use Alexander-Arnold as an inverted full-back, while Robertson remains tall and wide.

With Fabinho sliding into the backline in build-up, Alexander-Arnold coming back – along with a defender in the likes of Stefan Bajcetic – would see Liverpool form that three-box form.

We looked at how Brighton broke Liverpool’s press through the double pivot – and as far as Moises Caicedo is concerned, Alexander-Arnold is a much better playmaker.
It’s extremely exciting to imagine him in this part of midfield that he takes on this role.

This approach also puts Darwin Nunez in his favorite central role, with Cody Gakpo falling between the lines and Mo Salah receiving the ball further up the pitch. So if you want Trent to stay at the back, Klopp has got you covered. If you want Trent to play in midfield, there is at least one version he could work in.


Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp could unlock ‘Lionel Messi and David Silva hybrid’ amid Liverpool transfer links

Liverpool are likely to be in the running to sign the world’s most wanted teenager this summer, but a youngster from Serie A could also be of interest to several elite clubs.

Established first team midfielders James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Arthur Melo are all set to depart Merseyside at the end of this season and it will be up to Jürgen Klopp’s recruiting staff to ensure his options are as well filled as Liverpool go into the next season in search of a place among the elite. Admittedly, Borussia Dortmund sensation Bellingham has long been tipped as the main target, but it would certainly be foolish if the Reds fail to list alternatives, as well as possible additional signings, which could help expand Klopp’s squad, even if the England national team arrives.

In this sense, according to Goal, Liverpool are looking at the availability of an Italian starlet who has already made his country’s history, collecting the seal of approval from a Premier League winning manager. Incredibly, Udinese attacking midfielder Simone Pafundi became the Azuris’ youngest player in over a century in November when he made his debut against Albania aged 16.

A left-footed playmaker with a low center of gravity and excellent ball control, the talented youngster hopes to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Francesco Totti and Antonio Cassano to become the next in a long line of exceptional Italian second strikers. National team coach Roberto Mancini expressed his “belief” that the little teenager will be part of the national team for the next two decades, describing him as having “incredible qualities”.

Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, the former Manchester City manager said: “First Pafundi, then everyone else: that’s my idea when I’m on the squad list. He has incredible qualities, he’s a 17-year-old boy and the hope is that he can play in Serie A and then be a national team player for the next 20 years. We really believe in him.”

As Mancini mentioned earlier in the week, the youngster’s playing time has been mostly limited to Primavera 1 – Italy’s top youth division – this season, where he has played eight games and recorded five goal contributions – two goals and three assists – in the process. Although he made his Italy debut in November last year, he’s only made two Serie A appearances since – playing just 11 minutes.

In a scouting report on Pafundi for Football Talent Scout, journalist Jacek Kulig described the teenager as a “hybrid of Leo Messi and David Silva”. With that comparison in mind, it should come as no surprise that Udinese’s academy product is associated with some of the biggest clubs in Europe. The 17-year-old’s current contract expires in two years, with clubs including Liverpool, rivals Manchester United and Spanish giants Real Madrid already interested in signing the top-flight talent, Goal reports.

Curiously, the Udinese prodigy was also shortlisted for Europe’s latest Golden Boy award, given to the continent’s best under-21 player, alongside two other Liverpool stars. The 2022 squad, made up of 40 journalists from publications from all over Europe including La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca, L’Equipe, Bild and The Times, nominated the Udinese playmaker along with Reds stars Fábio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott, with Jude Bellingham also the illustrious list.

In a scouting report on Pafundi for Football Talent Scout, journalist Jacek Kulig described the teenager as a ‘Leo Messi/David Silva hybrid’. Given that comparison, it’s no surprise that the Udinese academy product has been linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The 17-year-old’s current contract expires in two years, with clubs including Liverpool, rivals Manchester United and Spanish giants Real Madrid already interested in signing the highly-rated talent, according to Goal.

Curiously, the Udinese wonderkid was also shortlisted for the recent European Golden Boy award, which is given to the continent’s best player under 21, alongside two other existing Liverpool stars. The 2022 selection, compiled by 40 journalists from publications across Europe including La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca, L’Equipe, Bild and The Times, named the Udinese playmaker alongside Reds starlets Fábio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott, along with Jude Bellingham also took their place on the illustrious list.

Although Barcelona starlet Gavi was eventually named Europe’s best young talent, Pafundi’s inclusion shows the high regard he has on the continent. It’s no surprise, then, that Pafundi’s name has reappeared this week, this time on the Goal NxGn list, with the young starlet voted one of the world’s top 50 child prodigies alongside Liverpool talents Stefan Bajčetić and Ben Doak. He’s clearly a player with a hugely promising future in football and at a low valuation of just $3.7m (£3m/€3.5m) he wouldn’t be. surprising to see a host of clubs, according to TransferMarkt, vying for his signature in the months and years to come.

Given Klopp’s reputation for empowering youngsters in his squad, as evidenced by the 61 appearances the aforementioned Elliott and rising midfield talent Bajčetić have made this season, the chance to join an elite club who has a proven track record of helping young players rise to stardom could be an attractive proposition for Pafundi. Despite his explosion on the international scene, his progress at club level is more widespread and perhaps a move to a club with a reputation for developing elite talent can help unlock his inalienable potential.

The battle for one of Europe’s most sought-after teenagers is set to dominate the headlines this summer as clubs vie for the signing of Bellingham, but perhaps the Reds can avoid paying an astronomical fee in future by securing the services of this Italian starlet this summer. Given the trust that the coach of his national team has already shown in him, one could suspect that in the coming years we will hear a lot about the name Pafundi.