Alexander-Arnold receives the No. 8 shirt from Southgate, and Liverpool faces a massive challenge.

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For the club and the nation, Trent Alexander-Arnold is still a mystery. Given the No. 8 jersey, the 25-year-old Liverpool academy product seemed certain to play a significant role for England at the European Championship this summer.

After coming off the bench in Friday night’s shocking loss to Iceland, the right-back was easily the finest player on the field as the Three Lions defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina in midfield.

In his 25-minute cameo at Wembley, Alexander-Arnold generated three chances, more than any other player, after taking Kyle Walker’s position at full-back.

But in the 3-0 victory over Bosnia, he was used on the right side of a double pivot in midfield and ended up scoring as well as creating five chances. His performance was highly praised.

The record-breaking right-back is expected to start Euro 2024 in England’s 4-2-3-1 configuration with Declan Rice. Furthermore, it appears that Gareth Southgate had him in mind for the starting lineup because he was handed the much sought-after No. 8 jersey instead of Conor Gallagher.

All the signs seem to indicate that he should be in England’s starting lineup. Rice went so far as to say that he must get off to a head start against Iceland.

“He is unique. We are all familiar with Trent’s skill set; his passing, pass recognition, and right-sided [midfield] positioning are all excellent fits for him, Rice added.

“Like he does for Liverpool, he may enter on his preferred right side and see that pass. Although he played right-back for the final 20 minutes [on Monday] and looked just as excellent, he really does fit that role. Any nation would value this player. Trent is a player we must play, we must participate, and our attackers ought to be having a great time off of him because of his incredible passing.”

MIDFIELD TRENT?

This might make things more difficult for Liverpool if he does indeed succeed in a midfield role.

Alexander-Arnold is now in the last 12 months of his Anfield deal. Last month, there were reports that the Reds considered resolving their No. 66’s situation a top priority for the summer.

However, little real progress has been made in recent weeks, and any discussions will come to a halt while he is overseas representing England in international competition. There have been rumors that Real Madrid is interested in signing him, and the European champions want to bring him to the Spanish capital for nothing next summer.

The 25-cap England international told FourFourTwo earlier this year how he saw himself as a player: “I play best in the middle of the pitch because that’s where my ability and skill set shine. You’ll get the most out of that ability. And I see it as a chance to demonstrate that to the world.

Following his usage of the right-back as an inverted full-back, Jurgen Klopp did this. He would combine with Liverpool’s defensive midfielder to create a double pivot when in possession.

However, the German strategist never gave Alexander-Arnold his all as a midfield player. If they had been more confident in his abilities to fill that job, the previous season would have been the perfect moment to make the switch.

The Reds made a complete makeover of their midfield, adding four new players and occasionally starting Cody Gakpo in the middle third.

They refused to settle with Alexander-Arnold filling that position all the time. The team might have pursued a right-back to provide space for the No. 66 instead of settling on three new midfield additions. That wasn’t why they did it.

RIGHT BACK, TRENT PULLS THE STRINGS

The Scouser said in the FourFourTwo interview that playing as a full-back had given him freedom and allowed him to impact the game in ways that he would not have been able to if he had been assigned a fixed role.

The truth is that Alexander-Arnold was able to influence the game for the Reds because of his right-back position, particularly under Klopp. He would be able to pull the strings with the help of intermediaries.

Arne Slot also employs a similar strategy with his right-back. His strengths are best suited for the right-back position, particularly when he is required to invert.

More off-the-ball tasks are frequently assigned to midfielders. These obligations may restrict their future influence.

Ironically, his final third influence may decrease as he advances up the pitch. And for good reason—Klopp didn’t use him there. He was too talented to be bothered by all the extras that come with being a midfield player.

ENGLAND ROLE HANDS TRENT LEVERAGE However, even though England play a different system and formation, if Alexander-Arnold impresses as a midfielder, he might return to Liverpool wanting a midfield role. Moreover, his contract situation gives him more leverage because he can simply run out of money and leave the club on a free agent. Having played right-back for Liverpool, he could continue as a full-back and add to his already illustrious career by playing for Real Madrid. This could put the Reds in a tight spot.

Would it be better to take a chance on losing Alexander-Arnold, a 25-year-old full-back with little experience playing in the middle third as a midfielder in senior football? Do they give in to him just because he thinks he’s no longer useful as a full-back?

They have a player who can play full-back in Conor Bradley. This is likely the finest chance to try the experiment because of that and the arrival of a new manager.

If he is allowed a run there, then the only way these inquiries about his physique and athleticism will be addressed.

Isn’t it true that it’s now or never? For his benefit as well as the club’s ability to move on from having this conversation each season. A Liverpool calamity may be an England victory.

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