Aaron Curry wades into the Nathaniel Clyne versus Trent Alexander-Arnold debate with the start of the new Premier League season just a week away.
Since the beginning of pre-season, it has come to be that Academy starlet Trent Alexander-Arnold has been playing alongside the regular back four of last season. In turn, this led to Liverpool’s other right back Nathaniel Clyne playing alongside the likes of Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno.
This came as a surprise to most, even despite the fact that he is already showing signs of blooming into a top quality player at the tender age of 18. Most players at this age would more than likely find it going to their head – but not Trent.
His debut came in late 2016, featuring in a 2-1 home victory against Tottenham Hotspur, in the EFL Cup. A mature performance was followed up with inevitable attention being drawn towards the local player.
Being either English or a local player or in Trent’s case both seems to add extra attention towards any player; probably due to the lack of success the national team has endured in recent years. His debut saw him become the 18th local player to debut for Liverpool since a certain Steven Gerrard in 1998.
Out of the 18 local players to have made a break into the first team, Steven Gerrard is the only anomaly in terms of holding down a long-term first team spot. This can be used as motivation for Trent, as he would ideally look to break this pattern.
The next question is: who should start for the Reds? Trent Alexander-Arnold or Nathaniel Clyne?
While Trent made his first team debut last season, Clyne was in the middle of a very average season. He had attained the label ‘Mr. Consistent’, and he stuck to this. While none of his performances were majorly poor, on the other end of the spectrum, none were amazing either.
The lack of stellar performances threw his position into some doubt – and this doubt has grown stronger since the conclusion of the previous season. Only managing 2 assists in 37 Premier League appearances, without any goals, demonstrates the lack of attacking threat he possessed for the Reds.
Respectively, Trent managed 4 goals and assists from the same position in the Premier League 2; the equivalent to a senior player’s Premier League. The astonishing fact is that he managed this in 12 appearances – leading to a goal contribution every 1.5 games.
Clyne’s goal contribution is one every 18.5 games – which is poor in a system that relies hugely on overlapping, attacking fullbacks.
There could be room to argue that the second-tier Premier League is easier than the top tier, but it all comes down to age. As Trent is only 18, nobody can realistically expect him to slot straight into Liverpool’s first team.
Although, when played in the first team, it would not be wrong to suggest that Trent has faired as well as Clyne in most regards. Making his Premier League debut away to Manchester United, he performed outstandingly – when compared to everyone’s initial expectations, that is.
In my opinion, I believe Trent has shown enough physical, technical and mental ability to one day become Liverpool’s first-choice right back. He was even quoted in a previous interview outlining his ambitions to earn the captain’s armband. This was something that every Liverpool fan loved the sound of.
Twitter polls and debates have followed Trent’s recent pre-season performances, with the forefront of these being: Trent-Alexander Arnold or Nathaniel Clyne?
I, for one, would sway towards Trent’s side, mainly due to the rate at which his footballing ability seems to be growing. On the flip side, it would be safer to assume that Klopp will put Clyne straight back into the side as soon as he is fit; but that is not to say that he is immune from changing his mind.
Who do you want to start for Liverpool this season – Nathaniel Clyne or Trent Alexander-Arnold?