(Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has described Trent Alexander-Arnold as exceptional and world class after the right back was excluded from the England team during their Nations League fixtures this month.
Alexander-Arnold was an unused substitute in England’s defeat by Italy and left out of the squad for their draw with Germany, despite being Liverpool’s first choice in a side that has consistently challenged for major honours in recent seasons.
“Trent came back not in a party mood but he accepts the manager’s decision because he is extremely bright,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.
“Obviously I would decide differently… Whatever team I would coach in the moment, I would pick him because he is exceptional. Is he always exceptional? No.
“There are stories out there all the time that talk about him and say he’s not a good defender, but that’s not true. He’s a good defender, he doesn’t defend always good. That’s true as well. That is what we’re working on, he is a young player.”
Alexander-Arnold, 23, has fallen out of favour with England manager Gareth Southgate and has made only one international appearance this year, casting doubt over his World Cup prospects.
Southgate suggested Kieran Trippier, who made the bench against Germany, had a better “all-round game” than Alexander-Arnold.
“There is space for improvement, definitely, but we only discuss it on the level we discuss it because his offensive impact is so extreme for us,” Klopp added.
“The only thing I can really say is that I see it differently, but that does not mean it is right or wrong… It’s clear, for me, he’s a world-class player and not playing for his country is difficult.”
Klopp eased concerns over the fitness of Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz but confirmed four players will miss Saturday’s Premier League home game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Andy Robertson, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were all injured before the international break and will remain sidelined for Brighton’s visit to Anfield under their new manager Roberto De Zerbi.
Liverpool, who played out a goalless draw with Everton in their last league outing on Sept. 3, have endured a disappointing start to their campaign with only two wins from six games so far.
“We didn’t have the start we wanted. For explainable and unexplainable reasons. That’s now gone. Here we go, collect points back,” Klopp said.
“Brighton did extremely well before and now they have a really exciting new manager. They have a really brave coach. He’s really influential, his football idea suits Brighton. We don’t know what to expect other than a really good team.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)