Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp previously turned his nose up at right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold playing in midfield while on duty with the England national team.
Alexander-Arnold was widely regarded as the best right-back in the world. It was an unpopular tactical change from Gareth Southgate to field him in the centre.
However, many people saw the strategic brilliance behind the idea – a brilliance that Klopp is gradually acknowledging.
Alexander-Arnold possesses a remarkable skillset. He has a wand of a right foot that sprays forward, calculated and incredibly dangerous passes for the attackers ahead of him.
His laser-focused passing and ability to puncture holes behind the opposition defence with his piercing passes is sometimes staggering. Klopp is learning to harness that prowess in the centre of the park.
It is not uncommon to see Alexander-Arnold moving into the holding midfield position, with centre-back Joe Gomez playing as the right-back.
The tactical tweak played a vital role in helping Liverpool find some stability towards the end of last season, where they went on a long winning run. The Reds have also started this term in fine form, sitting second in the Premier League.
It is unclear why Klopp hasn’t utilised Alexander-Arnold, who is studying Sergio Busquets and Andrea Pirlo to develop his skill, in the middle more often.
The answer is simple – Liverpool do not have capable options at right-back. Their current right-backs include Calvin Ramsay, Conor Bradley and Gomez.
We explore options for Liverpool to reinforce the right-back position and allow Alexander-Arnold’s permanent transition into midfield.
Jeremie Frimpong – Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen are top of the Bundesliga table, hoping to break their unfortunate duck and claim their maiden league title.
A pivotal piece of the Leverkusen puzzle is Dutch international right-wing-back Jeremie Frimpong, who has been in scintillating form this season, bagging six goals and six assists.
The former Celtic man stands out as a rapid full-back with the attacking instincts of a winger. He can infiltrate the box to finish off chances. His 5.31 touches in the opposition box are the most for full-backs in the top five leagues.
He is unafraid to take on his man, recording 2.31 successful take-ons per 90 (98th percentile). Frimpong’s 4.99 progressive carries per 90 rank him in the 99th percentile, albeit with room for improvement in his passing.
Frimpong is a dynamic and productive full-back who will offer the Reds a different threat to Alexander-Arnold. Frimpong is more dangerous with his runs off the ball, while the Englishman sprays spellbinding passes with the ball at his feet.
Alexander-Arnold sending passes unto the runs of Mohamed Salah and Frimpong is a lethal prospect that will send fear into the hearts of opposition defences.
Frimpong has a €40 million release clause that Liverpool should trigger quickly.
Vanderson – AS Monaco
AS Monaco right-back Vanderson is a terrific prospect with plenty of upside, like his relentless attacking endeavours.
He is constantly looking to carry the ball and probe the opposition defence, using his Brazilian flair to beat his man. Vanderson is always electric in the penalty area, as his movement causes opposition problems.
The 22-year-old is still occasionally capable of making costly mistakes. However, Vanderson combines solid attacking intent with competent defensive nous at the back for Les Monagesques, helping them to five Ligue 1 clean sheets while contributing a goal and an assist.
Vanderson records 3.39 tackles and 1.41 interceptions per game, showing awareness of his primary defensive duties.
The former Gremio star has been linked with a move to Manchester United, but Liverpool would be wise to snap up a young defender poised to ascend among the world’s best in his position.
Nahuel Molina – Atletico de Madrid
Argentine right-back Nahuel Molina struggled to adapt to La Liga following his move from Udinese but began to look his dangerous best in Diego Simeone’s side as the season went on.
The World Cup winner bagged two goals and two assists while helping Los Colchoneros to nine clean sheets in 33 La Liga appearances.
Molina is fast and can bamboozle defenders before veering into the opposition penalty area, making him a formidable force.
He is also a cool and collected customer, always somehow picking out the right passes in the final third. Molina relies on his recovery pace to defend and is complemented by Atletico’s robust defensive system.
He would be a solid addition for Liverpool, but it will be difficult for them to pry him from Atletico’s hands.
His contract runs until 2027, and the Madrid club would demand a massive fee for his services.
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