Fullback appreciation Pt. I – How Robertson and Alexander-Arnold made the first-team slots their own

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By James Miller – @JamesMillernews

Part one of our two-part ‘Fullback Appreciation’ special. You can read part two here.

After years of struggle and despair for Liverpool in the full back department, it now looks like Jürgen Klopp may have finally found the balance to take the Reds forward.

When the German first arrived on the scene, it was clear that there was a lot of deadwood that needed clearing out, from not just the starting XI but the first team squad in general. Years on and firmly into his revamp of the Reds, one area of the pitch that is completely unrecognisable to when he arrived is full back.

At the beginning of Klopp’s tenure, his first-choice full backs were Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne. It’s fair to say that the former in particular has never really achieved what was thought he might when he first arrived from Sevilla. Clyne, though, has had some good moments in a Liverpool shirt, but injury problems have really piled up for the England international.

Both players are actually still on the books of Liverpool, almost four years into Klopp’s stint as manager. However, after Clyne was loaned to Bournemouth in January and James Milner became the elected backup to Andy Robertson at left back, their respective futures at the club are in major doubt.

There have actually been strong suggestions that Moreno will leave this summer and move to Lazio for free upon the expiry of his contract, but – incredibly – Barcelona has been slated as a potential destination. It’s highly unlikely that the former-Sevilla man will be offered a new deal on Merseyside.

In the past it would have been slightly concerning for Liverpool to potentially lose two experienced full backs – left back in particular has been a problem position for Liverpool for some years now. Many Reds argue that the last successful left back prior to Robertson was John Arne Riise, a player who moved on from Liverpool in 2008 – more than a decade ago.

In the present day, though, it is being suggested that Liverpool have one of the best full back combinations in not only the Premier League but world football in general. Incredible to think, especially when you realise the fee for both players totals just £8m. Only eight. That’s all.

Having already enjoyed success in after signing Georginio Wijnaldum from a relegated team the summer before, Klopp decided to through caution to the wind and take a chance on Andy Robertson. Having just been relegated with Hull City, Klopp offered the Scot an immediate return to England’s most prestigious league.

He initially found opportunities very limited and he played second fiddle to Moreno, but it was clear that the Spaniard was walking a fine line in terms of keeping his position in the side. After he suffered a serious injury, the opportunity presented itself for Robertson to get some regular minutes – an opportunity he most certainly took.

On the other side, Liverpool have integrated academy graduate Trent Alexander-Arnold firmly into their plans for the future, the 20-year-old promoted to the first team after performing to a high standard in the youth set up.

Born and bred in Liverpool, the Scouser was given his first competitive start for his boyhood club on October 25, 2016 against Tottenham Hotspur, something of a baptism of fire for the youngster who had just celebrated his 18th birthday earlier that month.

In the present-day, Liverpool’s No.66 has performed at on football’s biggest stage both for club and country. He represented Liverpool in last year’s Champions League final and subsequently earned a place in England’s World Cup squad in Russia last summer.

This season the pair have really pushed on and become integral parts in Liverpool’s surge for silverware. Not only are they both effective defensively but have helped contribute going forward this season too – between them the pair have racked up a monumental 20 assists in all competitions, while in the Premier League alone, Robertson has himself nine compared to Alexander-Arnold’s seven.

These are sensational numbers when you consider they are, first and foremost, defenders. Together they are part of a back four that has conceded the least goals in the Premier League this season, while still they affect play in the opposition’s half of the field.

They are both true examples of what a modern-day full back should be.

Do Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have the potential to be Liverpool best full back pairing ever? Let us know what you think!

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