Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has softened his opinion over Trent Alexander-Arnold’s versatility as a potential midfielder but still believes he best serves the team from his natural right-sided role.
Just over two years ago, after the 25-year-old was deployed in a central position against Andorra by England boss Gareth Southgate, Klopp said there was no need to change the defender into a midfielder.
Those lines have been blurred since Alexander-Arnold started performing the hybrid role of stepping into central areas when Liverpool are in possession and Klopp took it one step further in last month’s Carabao Cup win at Bournemouth when he brought him on to replace holding midfielder Wataru Endo for the final half-hour.
Alexis Mac Allister has been performing the number-six role in the Premier League despite it being an unfamiliar one to him but the Argentina international is suspended for Sunday’s visit of Brentford after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Endo, who was a late addition to the squad in August, has started only one league game in the role but was already off the pitch by the time the side forged a late comeback at Newcastle.
His starts have mainly come in the Carabao Cup and Europe but he was one of a number of players who underperformed in the 3-2 defeat by Toulouse and his display was not the best preparation – he was replaced at half-time – to step in for Mac Allister at the weekend.
Klopp was asked whether Alexander-Arnold was a potential option, considering how thin the midfield resources are with Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic long-term absentees, Curtis Jones out till after the international break and Ryan Gravenberch doubtful with a knee problem.
“(A) possibility, depends on the situation and the opponent, on a lot of things,” said the German.
“We know he can play there but if we just put him there we lose one of the best right-backs in the world so we should not forget that completely.
“Of course he is an option for that position.”
Mac Allister was one of only two players retained from Sunday’s draw at Luton to start against Toulouse as Klopp knew he would get an enforced rest this weekend.
But, even in his preferred position slightly further forward, the World Cup winner struggled like many of his team-mates as Liverpool’s three-match winning run in the competition came to an end and placed greater significance on their final two games – even though they are still group leaders.
“We were not good enough defensively. We missed so many challenges and that cannot happen when we play with the high line,” Mac Allister told liverpoolfc.com.
“It is what it is, we will try to improve and go again on Sunday because we have a very important game.”
Mac Allister was involved in the most contentious incident of the night when Jarell Quansah’s last-minute equaliser was ruled out for a handball by the Argentinian after a VAR referral.
“It’s a weird one because the referee said goal and then 10 seconds later he changed the decision,” he added.
“I don’t know exactly how the rule is but it first hit my chest so it’s weird. But it’s not an excuse, we didn’t play well.”