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‘I don’t see this young guy anymore, I see a leader’: Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders tips Trent Alexander-Arnold as a ‘future captain’ for the Reds and tells him to ‘learn as much as possible’ from James Milner
- Trent Alexander-Arnold was added to Liverpool’s ‘leadership group’ last summer
- Despite being just 23 years old, the full-back was chosen by his team-mates
- Assistant boss Pep Lijnders has praised Alexander-Arnold’s leadership qualities
- Lijnders made the Englishman the captain of the Reds’ under-16 side in 2014
Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders has backed Trent Alexander-Arnold to be the Reds’ captain in the future.
Despite being just 22 years old at the time, the full-back was added to Jurgen Klopp’s player leadership group before the start of last season.
Current skipper Jordan Henderson, understudy James Milner, left-back Andrew Robertson and goalkeeper Alisson are also part of the contingent – which was voted for by all members of the squad.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was added to Liverpool’s squad ‘leadership group’ last summer
In his new book Intensity – Inside Liverpool FC, Lijnders revealed his excitement when Alexander-Arnold was chosen.
‘Jurgen forwarded me a text with the result of the votes for the players’ committee,’ the Dutchman wrote. ‘There were three spots left behind our captain Hendo, vice-captain Milner and leader Virgil.
‘I was delighted to discover that Trent was in! Our future captain was a step closer – he should now stay close to Milner to learn as much as possible during this year because it’s the next step in his development. Robbo and Ali were the other two to make the players’ committee.
‘Trent had asked to meet me in pre-season for a chat and we sat together for an hour discussing his game.
Assistant boss Pep Lijnders has backed the England international to be a future Reds’ captain
Lijnders says that Alexander-Arnold should ‘learn as much as possible’ from James Milner
‘One of the main things he wanted to discuss as well was making sure me and Jürgen knew he wanted to be in now, and not be missed out because he was young or maybe a bit less vocal before games than others. I replied to the boss, “Trent is in, TOP, he represents so much of our club”.’
A boyhood Liverpool fan, Alexander-Arnold has been at the club since the age of six and made his first team debut when he was 18.
But he had caught the eye in the academy long before that and Lijnders made the England international the captain of the under-16s when he took over coaching the side in 2014.
Elsewhere in his new book, Klopp’s assistant revealed that Alexander-Arnold’s quality was clear from early on in his development.
The 23-year-old captained Liverpool’s academy sides as he came through the ranks at the club
Lijnders celebrates with Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s trophy parade at the end of last season
‘Even at the age of 15, he was this natural technical talent,’ Lijnders wrote. ‘He had all the characteristics I loved: a mentality to win, passionate to improve – but his emotions sometimes took control instead of him taking control over the emotions.
‘He trained with so much power and competition. He grew step-by-step into the wonderful guy he is now, surrounded by a lovely family, he created this superb personality.
‘He has this aggression in a positive way. If someone represents this quote of Bill Shankly, it’s him: ‘Playing at the highest level isn’t pressure, it’s a reward’.
‘I still see the same fire in his eyes in each training session, but I don’t see this young guy anymore; I see a leader, I see someone who controls his emotions, a future captain. A leader by example.’