Watching Liverpool v Barcelona tonight, you knew greatness might appear at any time. Liverpool, with perhaps four world class players, and Barcelona with many more, albeit ageing world class players. And one little man, Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of all time. One moment of greatness would win it for Barcelona. However, the moment of greatness came from someone else.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool’s right back. Just 20 years of age, TAA is a living illustration of what great coaching can do to a player. He is a phenomenal athlete with an old head on a young body. And boy, he can play.
Tonight, TAA was fearless. He dominated the right hand side of the pitch as if he was playing against a team with all the talent of a lower league pub team. Except that he was up against Barcelona. Messi, Busquets, Pique, Alba, Suarez, Rakatic et al.
Liverpool’s impossible job was to recover from a 3-0 first leg deficit, which would be impossible. Until it became possible. At 3-3, greatness appeared.
Messi was subdued in a team that had suddenly become old. Where Liverpool’s youthful side grew stronger, Barcelona ran out of steam. Then, late on, TAA won a corner on the right hand side, in front of the Kop.
He placed the ball by the corner flag and walked away. Then, as everyone else on the pitch switched off, TAA switched on, quickly returned to the ball and sent over a perfect low corner to Divock Origi who instinctively placed the ball past a gobsmacked Ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal.
This was no set play. This was a young boy, showing no fear of failure, who aimed for the stars and found them. If Messi had done the same thing at the other end, we’d have been rightly proclaiming the mark of genius. TAA’s corner was nothing less than genius.
TAA is currently Liverpool’s right back and is unarguably the in form right back in England. He has everything. He is surely destined, eventually, to end up in midfield where his quick mind, his incisive passing and uncanny positional sense will be put to even greater purpose.
Jurgen Klopp is developing one of the finest players this country has seen in a generation. Even now, TAA shows maturity beyond his tender years. Goodness knows what lies ahead of the boy. I can’t wait to watch his journey.