Rio Ferdinand believes that Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool and Chelsea’s Reece James will be directly contesting for an England spot for the foreseeable future, speaking on Rio Ferdinand Presents Five.
Alexander-Arnold and James are amongst the best right backs in the Premier League, while the pair have contrasting allegiances at club level.
However, the battle between the Reds and Blues currently stretches beyond the Premier League.
Now, the young defensive duo are jostling for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England set-up as their country’s first-choice right-back.
On this occasion, it was the Chelsea man who came out on top, with Alexander-Arnold omitted from this month’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
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Southgate chose to select James, as well as Kieran Tripper and Kyle Walker, ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League-winning full-back.
Ferdinand on Alexander-Arnold and James
Former Manchester United captain, Ferdinand, questioned Southgate’s decision to drop Alexander-Arnold, who has just 12 England caps to his name, in place of James.
“I love Reece James don’t get me wrong and I think he’ll be fighting Trent for that position for the rest of their careers, I believe that,” said the ex-Manchester United centre-back.
“But Reece hasn’t been a regular in the team – Hudson Odoi has been playing a lot as well. He hasn’t been playing every week, he’s not been a regular at his team.”
What RTK has to say
Ferdinand makes a number of interesting and valid points, notably Southgate’s insistence that his decision to overlook Trent was down to “form”.
The England manager has really shot himself in the foot with that particular comment, as the likes of Ben Chilwell, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Trippier and James have all enjoyed indifferent 2020/21 campaigns.
Indeed, Alexander-Arnold has seen a considerable drop-off by his high standards, but this notion that he has been “poor” is nothing shy of ludicrous.
Jurgen Klopp, after all, recently made a public declaration that Alexander-Arnold has been one of his most consistent players since December.
Southgate’s reluctance to look past that will only push Alexander-Arnold closer to Liverpool and further away from England.