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Alexander-Arnold has all the tools to follow Gerrard as Liverpool fans’ local hero, says Klopp assistant

Date Posted,August 15, 2017

He is the poster boy for Liverpool ‘s future, and a kid who offers hope to all those teenagers trapped under the Premier League’s glass ceiling.

Yet ask Pep Lijnders – the key Anfield coach tasked with bridging that seemingly impossible gap between youth team and first XI – what makes him so convinced Trent Alexander-Arnold can do it, and he says: “Talent without fire is like a Ferrari without fuel… and fire is something that Trent has.

“First, always comes love for the ball, the game and love for training. Passion and ambition is the starting point of everything that counts.

It was a surprise to see Alexander-Arnold taking that free-kick… (Image: Liverpool FC/Getty)
…but his shot beat the wall and the keeper to put Liverpool ahead… (Image: Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
…on a night when they eventually won 2-1… (Image: Reuters)
…to make them hot favourites to reach the Champions League group stage (Image: Reuters)

“Every talent inside our club must unfold itself by showing that desire and fighting. Trent does this in every single session. He has that Scouse mentality to go to, and over, the limits on the pitch.”

Those words are not just music to the ears of every Red across the globe, but a sign of something they demand most from their club — a local hero they can truly believe in.

And according to Steven Gerrard , the icon who last fulfilled that role at Anfield, the 18-year-old really does have the star quality to not only handle the pressure of fans’ hopes and dreams, but to thrive on it too.

Gerrard suggested months ago he felt Alexander-Arnold was destined for the top, describing him as a beauty, but after the teenager’s brilliant goal against Hoffenheim on Tuesday night that announced his talent to a world-wide audience, he went further.

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“Performances like that let Klopp know he’s ready for the big time,” the Reds skipper said in his role as a BT pundit. “To step up and have the character to take a free kick ahead of the likes of Henderson and Mane, it does say a lot – he’s going to be a top, top player.”

Gerrard is well placed to judge, because like Alexander-Arnold, he was a natural midfielder whose first opportunity for Liverpool came at right-back… where he showed the natural ease of a true athlete.

And according to Lijnders, the young star could follow a similar path to his idol and eventually save Liverpool tens of millions by claiming a pivotal central midfield role.

The youngster put pen to paper on a new Liverpool contract this June (Image: Liverpool FC)

“He was a right-sided defender who could create and dominate the complete right channel, but also had the ability to play passes to the front players where everything became interesting,” said Klopp’s assistant coach.

“He had the gift to speed up the tempo of the positional play. He has pace but, more importantly, he’s quick in his mind. I was convinced his future was inside, but now I don’t know any more – as long as it is for LFC, it’s okay.”

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the youngster is his ability to take the intense recent spotlight in his stride and still concentrate purely on making a permanent step into the first team.

Boss Klopp had plenty to applaud Alexander-Arnold about on Tuesday night (Image: Reuters)

Yet after the win in Germany and a free-kick that his manager said “took balls” to claim, if there is one thing that perhaps makes his eyes widen a little, is the news that Gerrard rates him so highly.

As a tiny kid, his greatest moment came when he was pictured with the then-Liverpool captain, and now he admits: “It’s always good to get compliments from your idol and I am hoping to live up to his words.

“It is always good to have his backing and support. It is special in so many different ways for me personally and I’ve definitely ticked the box off… it is indescribable to be honest, to get my first goal.”

And what a first goal it was — on his European debut too, and in a manner which had Liverpool fans not just purring, but dreaming.

He said: “At first, I didn’t know it was going to go in but it was well placed and I thought it was a good free-kick and I was happy it went in.

“I’ve been practising free-kicks but I didn’t think the senior players would let me take it to be honest but in the end they did and I stepped up and scored and did well for the team.”

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