Jurgen Klopp may have found a perfect solution to Trent Alexander-Arnold problem at Liverpool
Trent Alexander Arnold’s fluctuating fortunes this season have reflected the more general problems that have plagued Liverpool during a campaign characterised by inconsistency.
It is likely that fatigue has played a significant role in his relative struggles this year given the lack of adequate competition at right-back this season.
The 24-year-difficulties old’s have probably been exaggerated in some areas, but the fact that he has only contributed two assists in the Premier League this season, down from 12 the previous year, highlights the decline in his performance.
The West Derby-born star was crucial to jurJürgen Klopp’s team’s success in previous seasons, and his inventiveness from a full-back position practically revolutionised the position. However, there is no doubt that the defenders abilities are what have made him so successful.
But when one considers how many games the full-back has played over the past two years, it is understandable why he hasn’t been as productive this year.
It’s only March, and he’s already made an incredible 83 appearances over those two seasons. His approach to the position is frequently characterised as being of the “high risk, high reward” variety, but the rewards have been ephemeral this season, and one would be forgiven for positing that fatigue has been a major factor in his struggles.
This is because Calvin Ramsay, the backup, has not played a single minute of league football this season due to an injury-ravaged campaign.
Ramsay, who joined from Aberdeen last summer, was supposed to give Alexander-Arnold some competition, but because to his fitness concerns, the latter has unintentionally been unable to take a break at all this season.
The fitness issues of Ramsay have been unfortunate but the amount of game time Alexander-Arnold has played in the past two years will likely be a concern for his manager Klopp. With this in mind, the hope will surely be that an understudy steps up during pre-season to put himself into contention as a genuine squad option in the right-back position.
Conor Bradley, who has excelled while on loan at Bolton Wanderers in League One this season, is one such player who may very well be in the race before next season.
As the Trotters find themselves in sixth place in the standings and in real contention for promotion, the Northern Irish full-back has featured 40 times across all competitions this season, solidifying himself as a regular in the team.
The 19-year-first old’s continuous taste of regular first-team football came during this season, and the opportunity to compete against fully-fledged professionals in a division known for its harsh standard will have been beneficial to his development.
Bradley has previously made five appearances for the Reds’ main squad but made his biggest impact for Liverpool’s U21 team last season, earning a nomination for the Premier League 2 Player of the Season after making 21 league appearances and tallying three goals and eight assists.
Bradley played the full 90 minutes away in San Marino and according to reporter Steven Crawford for BelfastLive, the Liverpool academy graduate impressed down the right-hand side, with his attacking threat particularly coming in for praise.
The journalist gave him a rating of eight out of 10 for his performance, describing him as having ‘terrorized the San Marino defense down the right’, adding that he provided ‘a real threat’.
Bradley could establish himself as a useful asset in the years to come at Anfield. To get the most out of Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool desperately needs a backup in the right-back position and the role is, frankly, there for the taking for Bradley. The upcoming summer may present a rare opportunity to stake his claim.