Trent Alexander-Arnold can cite personal experience when he describes Jürgen Klopp's man management style as 'perfect'.
The Liverpool boss has overseen the young defender’s fairytale rise through the ranks since handing him a first-team debut in October 2016.
In little over two years since that breakthrough night for Alexander-Arnold, the Academy graduate has scored in front of the Kop, represented his boyhood club in a Champions League final, been to the World Cup, played 59 games for the Reds and, as of Thursday, netted for England at Wembley.
Liverpool coach Pepijn Lijnders, another influential figure in the Scouser’s development, has insisted in the past that players are ‘a product of their environment’.
Alexander-Arnold agrees, and the 20-year-old has highlighted the honesty of Klopp’s approach at Melwood as crucial to his personal progress – and that of the team.
“He demands a lot from his players and that’s why he’s had a lot of success throughout his career. We’ve all bought into the ideas that he’s brought into the team,” said the No.66, speaking in the latest edition of the official Liverpool FC magazine.
“I think with the right mentality the team can go a long way and with the mindset that he’s brought we’ve pushed forward over the past three years and I’m sure we can move even further ahead in the next few years.
“He obviously wants the best from everyone in his team and I like his honesty. He’s always straight with you and that’s good because you know what he’s saying is the truth, so you really listen to it and apply it to yourself.
“I think the way he goes about it is perfect. He knows when to be harsh with someone and when to put his arm around someone and help them along in tough times. I’ve experienced that a few times and it’s helped me to keep on performing.”
Alexander-Arnold provided the assist for Liverpool’s opening goal last time out, acting as the middle man in a lightning quick breakaway against Fulham that saw Mohamed Salah strike 14 seconds after the visitors had an effort disallowed.
It was his second set-up of the season and though Klopp has not established any particular objectives for him, the player is eager to increase his numbers this term.
“The manager hasn’t set me any specific targets but as a full-back you need to get goals and assists in the modern game,” he said.
“Without him saying it, I think we both know that full-backs need to do that, so let’s say my own target would be more goals, more assists and more contributions going forward as well as helping the team to keep more clean sheets.”
Alexander-Arnold’s first ever Reds goal came from a direct free-kick during the Champions League play-off first leg at Hoffenheim in August 2017.
His technique from set-pieces has been evident ever since and his maiden assist of this campaign was from a corner for Joel Matip’s headed finish against Southampton.
It’s a skill Alexander-Arnold puts the hours in to hone, not least because he believes it can give him a marginal edge in the face of fierce competition for places.
“I work hard on practising my free-kicks and dead-ball deliveries,” he said. “I think if you want to master something you’ve got to practise and practise and when I get the opportunity, I always do.
“The rest of the squad work hard on parts of their play, too. There’s a lot of competition for places in this team and I think that the different things you can bring will get you in or out of a team really.
“So if set-pieces are one of your strengths then maybe you’ll get picked ahead of someone else. I’ve always thought that way and I’ve always tried to add things to my game. A lot of the lads are practising the free-kicks hard as well and they’re keeping everyone on their toes.
“Everyone’s got their own technique but the more you practise the more you find out about yourself and how you hit the ball. That comes with practice and maybe with watching other people take them as well.”
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