Sam McGuire: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Real Madrid is a transfer story Liverpool need to accept isn't going away

Trent Alexander-Arnold has completed football with Liverpool. 

The era-defining full-back has been a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering side, helping his boyhood team win the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup, the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup.

Alexander-Arnold is also now peerless at the top of the assists chart for defenders, having surpassed teammate Andrew Robertson this season when he set up the opener for Diogo Jota in the win over Burnley in February.

The 25-year-old was named as the Liverpool vice-captain in the summer following the departures of Jordan Henderson and James Milner and he’s already captained the team on multiple occasions this term.

Regarding bucket lists, there can’t be much left to tick off on his.

In an ideal world, the No. 66 would see out the rest of his career at Anfield.

He would likely succeed Virgil van Dijk as skipper and go on to lift trophies with the armband. Alexander-Arnold would break existing records, set ones that probably wouldn’t ever be broken again and just go down in history as one of the club’s greatest-ever legends.

It is easy to say that as a fan though, isn’t it? And while Alexander-Arnold is a Liverpool supporter himself, you also have to remember that this is his career.

With that in mind, there’s a world in which he feels he’s achieved everything he can with the club and wants a new challenge. This is different to the likes of Steve McManaman and Michael Owen. They left the club in search of success. They left the Reds when the club needed them.

However, if the right-back was to leave, it wouldn’t be someone jumping ship. It would be someone looking to experience something new. You couldn’t begrudge him that, could you?

This is a conversation that needs to be had right now.

At the end of the current campaign, Alexander-Arnold will have just 12 months left on his existing deal and though all of the noise coming out of the club is that a new contract is a formality, this simply cannot be the case.

Premier League Manchester City v Liverpool Trent Alexander-Arnold 66 of Liverpool celebrates with Virgil van Dijk 4 of Liverpool after scoring to make it 1-1 during the Premier League match Manchester City vs Liverpool at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom, 25th November 2023 Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images Manchester Etihad Stadium Manchester United, ManU Kingdom Copyright: xConorxMolloy/NewsxImagesx

The academy midfielder isn’t going to put pen to paper on a new, long-term deal at Anfield without knowing what the future holds for the club in a post-Klopp world.

In theory, he’s going to be entering his peak years soon and he’s not going to be wanting to waste those years in what might be a transitional team. That is genuinely something to consider.

He’s going to want to know what the plan is, not just for the club as a whole but also what the new manager wants from him as an individual. Is he viewed as a full-back? Is he going to be used in midfield? Is he going to be tasked with a hybrid role? Is that the sort of thing he wants at this stage of his career?

Is he going to want to put pen to paper on a long-term deal when there might be a drop-off following the departure of Klopp? He’s used to competing for trophies every year and being in title races. The transition might not be seamless and Liverpool might face a year or two competing for a Champions League spot. Is that going to be ok for someone like Alexander-Arnold? Will he want to commit key years of his career to the new project? It doesn’t make him selfish if he decides he’s now above that.

All of this is what makes the recent links to Real Madrid a little worrisome.

According to reports in Spain, the European giants are keeping tabs on Alexander-Arnold’s situation at Anfield with a view to potentially bringing him to LaLiga on a free in 2025. If they are making moves behind the scenes and putting in the groundwork to unite the England international with Jude Bellingham in the Spanish capital, it desperately weakens Liverpool’s hand.

The Reds could lose one of their most valuable assets for nothing in a little over 12 months. It is a reality that we as fans might soon have to accept.

Share This Article