Virgil van Dijk's high praise for Trent Alexander-Arnold after Man City display

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk hailed Trent Alexander-Arnold as 'the complete package' after an all-action display against Manchester City.

The Reds' vice-captain topped the charts for possession won (10), duels contested (15) and passes into the final third (8) during the 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while his late equaliser earned Liverpool a valuable point in what was their biggest test of the 2023/24 season so far.

Alexander-Arnold's defensive best position and defensive capabilities have long been the subject of much debate and, while he excelled in many aspects in the draw with City, some difficult moments – in particular in the lead up to Erling Haaland's goal – only served to fuel old criticisms.

READ MORE: 4 talking points from Liverpool'1 1-1 draw with Manchester City

Speaking after the game, Van Dijk defended his teammate and praised his contributions from both an attacking and defensive standpoint, despite having to deal with in-form City winger Jeremy Doku.

“I think everyone this season, as a defender, one v one against Doku will have a tough afternoon. He’s a very good dribbler," Van Dijk stressed.

“But I don't think he [Alexander-Arnold] had a tough afternoon on the whole. It’s how you defend them together and try to get two v one in situations and, in the end, I’m pleased for him that he got the equaliser.

“He offers a lot defensively and, obviously in possession, he has qualities that are very special and he shows that as well, so he has the complete package.

“He has to keep doing what he’s doing, keep improving, keep that high standard he has for himself and we all have for him as well.”

Alexander-Arnold has has been used in a hybrid right back/midfield role by Jurgen Klopp for much of the calendar year, while England manager Gareth Southgate has preferred the 25-year-old as a pure midfielder.

However, Van Dijk stayed out of the debate on which position his teammate will ultimately end up playing.

“I don’t know, that’s for the coaches that work with him,” he said. “I think for the moment he’s playing just fine where he is right now.

“He has that freedom to mix it up and he has to do that because you see teams are working it out at times, so he has to be able to switch from staying on the outside and going on the inside as well.

“I think it’s a good learning curve for him as well and [on Saturday] he did that well because obviously he was playing against one of the most in-form wingers at the moment.”

Gary Neville, ProShots

Meanwhile, speaking after Liverpool's draw with City, Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United star Gary Neville claimed that Alexander-Arnold could yet become the best right back of 'all time', if he works on the defensive side of his game.

The former defender said: He’s got the material to be the very best right-back of all time. But he’s going to have to be a little bit more serious about his defending because he is currently struggling to get into the England team - or he has struggled. He will need to - when Liverpool and England are under the cosh - be able to be a resilient, tough defensive player as well.

“That’s something I think he can add to his game. I don’t give up on the fact that he can be a very good defender. I think defending is not that difficult to learn compared to the bit of his game that he has got.”

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