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Neville urges Alexander-Arnold to work on his defensive frailties after another difficult weekend

‘This is a Cafu’: Gary Neville urges Trent Alexander-Arnold to work on his defensive frailties after another difficult weekend as he insists the right-back not going to the World Cup could be the most beneficial thing for his career

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold has endured a difficult season so far for Liverpool
  • Gary Neville picked apart his defensive issues before urging him to work on them
  • Former Manchester United right-back compared his talents to that of Cafu 

Gary Neville has urged Trent Alexander-Arnold to work on his defensive frailties after another difficult weekend for the Liverpool right-back. 

Alexander-Arnold, 23, has endured his toughest start to a season yet with pundits and supporters alike questioning his defensive abilities amid Liverpool’s slow start to the campaign. 

Defeat at Manchester United in August led to many questioning his commitment, while Saturday’s draw at home to Brighton once again saw the Premier League and Champions League-winning defender make costly mistakes. 

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has come under scrutiny for his defensive weaknesses 

Speaking on Monday Night Football in the aftermath of another exciting weekend of action, Neville praised Alexander-Arnold for his success in the game so far, citing his 45 Premier League assists since he burst onto the scene as evidence for his remarkable performances in a Liverpool shirt but urged him to work on the defensive side of his game before it was too late.

‘We have one of the great talents this country has produced in his position,’ he said. 

‘But I said a couple of years ago, his defending would hurt him. Just in these last seven or eight games, Liverpool are conceding in Trent’s area. He isn’t a young player anymore. [Yes] age, but not experience. 

TAlexander-Arnold was outplayed by Brighton's Leandro Trossard in Saturday's 3-3 draw

TAlexander-Arnold was outplayed by Brighton’s Leandro Trossard in Saturday’s 3-3 draw

‘What surprises me still is three or four of the very basic things, communicating, determination, sensing danger etc. can’t be taught, but four things can.’

Neville, standing up in the studio to demonstrate what he meant, listed the areas in which he can strive to improve. 

‘In transition, sprint back. He doesn’t always do that. He ambles back at times. Keep body position low, open body shape when the ball is on the other side of the pitch and then in the box scan and rotate head,’ he said. ‘What you can’t have when you’re defending one v. one is be up right.’

Describing the position needing to be like that of a tiger ready to pounce, Neville added: ‘Trent finds himself in a relaxed upright [stance] and you can’t sprint from that position.

‘You can’t turn. You rarely see Trent in that position. He jogs out upright. He faces the wrong way, he doesn’t scan. 

Gary Neville said that the defender was one of the best talents this country has produced but that he must begin to improve his defending

Gary Neville said that the defender was one of the best talents this country has produced but that he must begin to improve his defending 

‘On the other side of the pitch, get your distances and body position right. If he was a bit more alert he could get out. He always has to go back and head it out because of his body position.’

Neville, however, said that these were issues he could work on and that if he did England would have the ‘best right-back the game has ever produced’. 

He added that not going to Qatar for the World Cup in November, which seems likely given Gareth Southgate’s reticence to use him in the most recent international fixtures, could be the best thing for his career. 

‘I think these are really basic things for him. The hard part of the game he is doing. No full back I have ever seen in this country can do what he’ll do,’ he said. ‘If he works on those four things, we’ll have the best right back the game has ever produced. 

‘This is special. This is a Cafu. I would urge him to work on it for a few months. We have games all the time. There might be a negative in him not going to a World Cup, this could be the biggest six weeks of his career.’

Alexander-Arnold's unlikely selection for the World Cup gives him an opportunity to improve, believes Neville

Alexander-Arnold’s unlikely selection for the World Cup gives him an opportunity to improve, believes Neville

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