We're working on Trent Alexander-Arnold's defensive abilities, says Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp

We're working on Trent Alexander-Arnold's defensive abilities, says Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says that the club are working on helping teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold to fulfil his huge potential by currently concentrating on improving the defensive side of his game.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp has revealed that Liverpool are working on improving Trent Alexander-Arnold's defensive qualities as the versatile youngster looks to press for more first-team minutes.

The 18-year-old full-back made his second Premier League start last weekend at Stoke City - joining fellow Academy graduate Ben Woodburn in the starting line-up at the bet365 Stadium.

But the teenage pair were withdrawn at half-time with the Reds trailing 1-0, and their replacements Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino scored a goal apiece to ensure victory.

Yet though despite their withdrawal, there are high hopes for the two teenagers and Klopp believes Alexander-Arnold must focus on the defensive aspects of his game in order to be competing for a starting spot more regularly.

"Alexander-Arnold closer to his best going forward than in defence"

Asked about the youngster, Klopp said: "We can talk a little bit about Trent but I don't like to talk too much about individual players in a press conference. It is no secret that Trent is an outstanding talent and the good news is he is our boy."

But the Reds boss said that Alexander-Arnold "can and should improve" and "where he has the most potential" is "in defence."

He noted how the West Derby-born prospect played "as a No.6 or a No.8 in the Under-18s" as well as "full-back" and that for the first-team he "has played full-back, winger and wing-back."

Klopp explained: "In all of these positions, the biggest difference between youth football and adult football is there are only brilliant players around and most of them are as similarly quick as you are, so you have to involve other skills and things in your game."

That is the "next step" for Alexander-Arnold according to Klopp, who said that "the other young boys" must also work on their all-round game.

"He has to improve in everything but he can and that's good," continued the Liverpool manager, who said that Alexander-Arnold is "closer to his 100 per-cent" offensively than he is "defence-wise", which is what the club are "working on."

Klopp believes that Alexander-Arnold's education will come through working on it in training and said: "We bring him into the games because we think he is ready to do this. We don't do it because we think we're not sure he can do it. But let's try. Our situation is much too serious, it's really too important what we're doing to do this."

He revealed that he spoke to Alexander-Arnold and Woodburn after the Stoke win, insisting they "were fine" even though they "didn't like it too much" that they were brought off.

Klopp said it "made sense" from his point of view, insisting that he knew the two youngsters would "deal with it really good" and they "still enjoyed the first-half."

Grujić "on a very good way" reveals Klopp

The Liverpool manager was also asked about midfielder Marko Grujić, with the Serbian's first year on Merseyside having been severely hampered by injuries.

Grujić signed from Red Star Belgrade in January 2016 but saw out the rest of the season in his homeland with his boyhood club, moving to Liverpool in the summer.

But after an explosive pre-season campaign in which he spectacularly showcased glimpses of his talent, Grujić has been restricted to two starts in all competitions.

The 21-year-old hasn't featured at all since November 29 though was back on the substitutes' bench for the Merseyside derby victory over Everton on April 1 and has since been in the match-day squad for clashes with Bournemouth and Stoke City

Klopp added that Grujić is "in very good shape" but "is not in a real rhythm" because of his injuries and said: "When we see him in training at the moment, he looks really good football-wise."

"The position he would play in this moment would be a kind of No.8 and from that position you have to do different things," continued Klopp, who said that there are "a few things" which are "not naturally there" in Grujić's game.

But Klopp feels that is "because he didn't play too often in the last few months", adding: "There would have been different scenarios where he could have played in the last three games but then the games were like this and we had to change like this, or another way, so he was not involved. But he is on a very good way and it's good to have him back." 

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