Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold has admitted that he has drawn inspiration from a rival player for his new hybrid role.
The 25-year-old, who originally came into Jurgen Klopp's side as a right-back, now seamlessly transitions into a central position during attacking plays as part of the side's new 'box' midfield.
This tactic, in part, was borne from the Reds' lack of creativity from midfield last season, gifting the Scouser a platform to showcase his technical prowess and creative impact.
In an interview while on international duty with England, Alexander-Arnold explained that his inspiration for this transition comes from studying videos of fellow Three Lions international, John Stones. The Manchester City defender has successfully navigated a similar move from defence to midfield under Pep Guardiola's management.
"I enjoy learning about the game," Alexander-Arnold said. "Watching things, watching players, different systems, different teams, how different players play it, and there are some players who play it really well."
Expressing admiration for Stones, he added, "He is someone who, for a long time, I have admired his game; he is exceptional, so I watch him a lot - clips or even when I am just watching City's games, I will sit and focus on him."
"He's pivotal in that team and someone who is massively underrated, but like we have seen recently, when you take him out of the team, they're not the same. That just shows how important he is."
The Liverpool star also acknowledged the influence of other football greats, including Rodri, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard, whom he studies to continually improve his game.
"I have always admired him and I admire the way Rodri plays," he added.
"He is pivotal in that team and someone who is massively underrated but like we have seen recently, when you take him out of the team, they are not the same. That just shows how important he is.
"I would say it is those kinds of players I watch, but there are a lot. I will watch players from the past as well - Busquets, Alonso, Pirlo, Stevie G - those players I have always enjoyed watching."
Midfield designation for England
This strategic shift in Alexander-Arnold's role has not only impacted his club performance but has also earned him a midfield designation with the England national team.
"The conversations I have had with [England] manager [Gareth Southgate] and the staff there, I go there as a midfielder, I train there and that is where I try and play on the pitch, barring the Australia game last time," he said.
Southgate initially experimented with the position during a match against Andorra in 2021, a decision that was met with scepticism by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp at the time. However, Klopp has since granted Alexander-Arnold more freedom in possession, recognising the developmental benefits.
Speaking on his role within Liverpool, Alexander-Arnold provided insights into the dual responsibilities he undertakes. "When we have the ball, I'm a midfielder, and when we don't have the ball, I'm a right-back," he explained.
As Alexander-Arnold continues to evolve his game, his ability to seamlessly transition between defensive and midfield roles adds a layer of unpredictability which will no doubt prove to be a key asset for both club and country going forward.