Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new role is “not written in stone” and it is a challenge for the squad to adapt to his new position, manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday as the England international looks to rediscover top-form.
Alexander-Arnold has been one of Liverpool’s main chance creators and he excelled in an advanced role to record two assists during their 6-1 win over Leeds United on Monday.
“In each position he played, Trent is a super important player for us. This advanced role suits him really well,” Klopp told reporters ahead of Saturday’s home Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest.
“It’s a challenge for everyone else to cover the spaces but with him there we don’t lose many balls. It’s not written in stone, he can play different ways.
“It’s not the first time we played like that... Trent’s a smart player, it’s more about how we set up.”
Klopp did not confirm if the 24-year-old would continue playing in that role, adding that it was not a “solution for all the football problems” Liverpool have had this season.
Liverpool, eighth in the Premier League, is looking to build on its win against Leeds when it hosts relegation-threatened Forest.
Klopp’s side was close to claiming an unprecedented quadruple last season but has endured a disappointing campaign as its sits nine points behind Newcastle United in fourth.
“It’s a strange, very average season so far, yet (we have had) some of the highest results in the club’s history. Leeds was the best we’ve played all season,” Klopp said.
“I can’t guarantee any kind of result but we have to guarantee a performance level and that is what we have to do now.”
Forest is 18th in the standings and inside the relegation zone on goal difference, but Klopp is still wary of their pragmatic style of play under Steve Cooper.
“They had a super spell late last year, but then it didn’t work out for them. But the quality they have is clear and if we didn’t respect that quality we would be on the wrong side,” Klopp said.
“Forest and Steve Cooper are in a difficult situation, they are fighting for their lives and each point they can grab will be massive.”
Roberto Firmino has been ruled out after picking up a muscle injury and Klopp said the Brazilian forward could be out for up to three games.
Klopp backs ‘long-term project’ Nunez to come good
Klopp remains confident Darwin Nunez will provide “long-term” value for the Reds despite being relegated to the bench in recent weeks.
A failure to reinforce Klopp’s midfield last summer has been criticised as Liverpool instead plunged the vast majority of its transfer budget into a £66 million ($82 million) move for Nunez, that could rise to £88 million with add-ons.
The Uruguayan has scored 15 goals since arriving from Benfica but has fallen down the pecking order since the arrival of Cody Gakpo in January and the return to fitness of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz.
Nunez came off the bench to net as Liverpool smashed Leeds 6-1 on Monday.
But it has often been a far more difficult season for Klopp’s men as they sit eighth in the Premier League, nine points adrift of the top four.
“It’s not helpful to go through a debut season when it’s difficult for the whole team. How can a striker shine when the whole team is struggling?” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Nottingham Forest’s visit to Anfield on Saturday.
“He was injured in some moments, suspended in other moments. That’s not a problem at all. This is a long-term project.
“I understand that he wants to play desperately from the beginning but we have to find a way that really works for us again and then fit in the players we can use with the specific strengths.
“I am completely fine with the situation. I understand that Darwin isn’t always fine. He doesn’t smile in my face when he realises he won’t start and says: ‘Thank you boss’.
“But when you have five or six players available up front you have to make decisions and that’s good.”
(With inputs from AFP)
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