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What Southgate’s Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment should tell Arne Slot 

England national team manager Gareth Southgate went ahead with the befuddling decision to field Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield in their 2024 European Championship opener against Serbia.

Alexander-Arnold’s performance in the centre of the park is a crucial lesson that Liverpool manager Arne Slot needs to learn.

For a long time, fans and pundits have been clamouring for Alexander-Arnold to play through the middle because of his excellent passing range.

Former Reds boss Jurgen Klopp sometimes utilised him through the middle, and Southgate went for the same script.

However, it takes more than superb passing ability to play in midfield. It should have been glaring for some time.

Alexander-Arnold can knock 50-yard passes to an attacker but lacks the fundamental qualities needed to play in midfield.

The England international let the game bypass him, especially in the second half when the Three Lions needed control. He failed to grab the match by the bull of the horn the way Jude Bellingham did.

Alexander-Arnold won only two of his five duels, made an error that led to a Serbia shot, and struggled to create openings for his side.

He is brilliant on the ball, but it takes more than otherworldly passing to impose yourself on the game as metronomes like Toni Kroos, Joshua Kimmich, Hakan Calhanglu, Granit Xhaka, and Aleix Garcia.

They understand how to use short and long passing to shape the rhythm of the game, and the Kirkby Academy graduate found himself lacking in this area.

Alexander-Arnold did not have a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clear that his talents are best utilised on the right flank, where he can be more dangerous and influence affairs better.

Slot needs to learn that for all the talk about how Alexander-Arnold is a defensive liability in defence – the 25-year-old is just as much a liability in midfield – just more lost.

Alexander Arnold needs to be at right-back, where he is one of the best in the world despite all his frailties. Slot must resist the urge to shoehorn him into a midfielder and enjoy his world-class ability at right-back.

Slot prefers control in midfield, and the West Derby-born star cannot provide that. The Dutch manager needs to stick Alexander-Arnold at right-back to enjoy the best of his ability.

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