Why England Manager Gareth Southgate likely to snub Trent Alexander Arnold despite Liverpool star return to incredible form | soccer4u
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Why England Manager Gareth Southgate likely to snub Trent Alexander Arnold despite Liverpool star return to incredible form



Gareth Southgate was in attendance as Liverpool won 3-0 away at Leicester City on Monday night

Liverpool’s 2022/23 campaign might not be over just yet, but the Reds’ plans for next season are already taking shape.

In recent weeks, following a difficult year on the pitch, Jurgen Klopp has admitted he already has one eye on his next season and is starting to implement changes that could be helpful to his side next season. One such tweak is the recent re-invention of Trent Alexander-Arnold as an inverted full-back.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are in talks to name Jorg Schmadtke as their new sporting director, while the Reds are interested in the likes of Chelsea’s Mason Mount, Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister, and Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch as they plot a midfield overhaul and their summer transfer business.

As well as incomings, Liverpool have already confirmed that James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will all leave the club at the end of their contracts this summer. Juventus loanee Arthur Melo is also set to return to Turin.

And when it comes to pre-season, the Reds confirmed earlier this week that they will face Leicester City on July 30, and Bayern Munich on August 2 in Singapore – a week and a half before the start of the new Premier League season.

It has been reported that Klopp would like the majority of Liverpool’s incoming transfer business completed before the Reds report back to the AXA Training Centre for the start of pre-season, which traditionally occurs at the start of July.

And this summer, the German will be greeted with the rare sight of the majority of his senior squad being free to report for the start of pre-season, with no World Cup, European Championships, or Copa America scheduled this summer.

However, Liverpool could still start pre-season without the services of the likes of England Under-21s regulars Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, with the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championships scheduled to take place in Romania and Georgia between June 21 and July 8. Lee Carsley’s side have been drawn in Group C along with the Czech Republic, Germany, and Israel.

While other Reds youngsters could also be called up, the pair are by far the most senior and prominent members of Klopp’s squad. As a result, especially considering Liverpool’s plotted midfield revamp and the fresh competition that awaits them, playing catch-up following a delayed start to pre-season after international excursions could prove to be far from ideal.

In what has been a difficult season for the Reds, Jones and Elliott have been two of their stars. The latter might have found game-time in recent weeks, but he had featured in every Liverpool match this season up until last month’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea, with his form earlier in the campaign ensuring he was touted for an England call-up that never came.

Meanwhile, having seen the majority of his campaign wrecked by by injury, the latter has burst back onto the stage in recent weeks, boasting three goals and an assist as Klopp’s men embarked on a nine-game unbeaten run to reignite their Champions League qualification hopes.

It was Jones’ brace that helped send Liverpool on their way to a 3-0 victory over Leicester City on Monday night, to move them back to within a point of Newcastle United, Manchester United, and the Premier League top four. Arguably the performance of his Reds career so far, it will not be lost on the 22-year-old that it came in front of England manager Gareth Southgate.

Yet while Jones starred, and Elliott came on as a late substitute, the Three Lions boss is far more likely to have been running the rule over the performances of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, and, to a lesser extent, Harvey Barnes.

Scoring a stunning free-kick, to add a goal to his total of six assists from eight outings as an ‘inverted full-back’, Alexander-Arnold has been the standout player in the Premier League over the past six weeks or so. Having previously endured the worst campaign of his career, he has silenced his doubters emphatically.

As a result, it will certainly be intriguing to see what Southgate plans to do with the right-back when the time comes for him to name his England squad for upcoming EURO 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia next month.

After all, Alexander-Arnold has featured just twice for his country over the past 12 months, having been left out of the squad during the March international break, only been assured of a World Cup call-up because of injuries to rival right-backs, and dropped from the matchday squad for England’s final Nations League clash with Germany last September.

Even when selected, it has predominantly only been in a substitute role with Southgate publicly admitting that he considers Kyle Walker, Reece James, and Kieran Trippier as superior options at right-back to Alexander-Arnold. They do have more experience playing at wing-back at least in the England’s boss’ favoured five-man defence, with it plausible the Reds defender could emerge as a midfield option.

Either way, it remains to be seen if the 24-year-old’s new inverted role improves his chances of international game-time, or dwindles them further with, as things stand, no such positional role existing in Southgate’s plans.

Of course, if Alexander-Arnold is left out of the next Three Lions squad, such a decision will be greeted with far more uproar than earlier in the season. In truth, given his current form, you could even argue that Southgate needs to find a way to fit one of England’s most creative players into his starting XI. Any faith in that becoming reality though, is lacking.

Either way, the Liverpool right-back would have given his international manager something to think about when downing Leicester on Monday night.

In truth, so to should the in-form Jones. Especially when you consider the likes of Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Conor Gallagher, and Mason Mount have endured far from exemplary campaigns.

Yet a senior snub for the 22-year-old on this occasion would be understandable, in favour of an Under-21s call-up this summer instead for the European Championships. Given the clash with pre-season plans, such a selection would be met with mixed emotions at Anfield. But beyond the tournament, Jones will no longer be eligible for such a level.

While Southgate might not have been directly watching him on this occasion against Leicester, if he maintains his current Liverpool form and takes it into next season, he won’t be waiting long for senior international recognition.


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