Trent Alexander-Arnold produced another exhibition of passing brilliance as Liverpool beat Benfica 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash.
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The Reds broke the deadlock through a trademark corner kick, with Ibrahima Konate getting on the end of Andy Robertson’s outswinger. But it was the second goal that really stole the show, with Alexander-Arnold executing an up-field pass that split Benfica’s defence and teed up Luis Diaz to lay it on a plate for Sadio Mane.
Earlier this season Gary Neville suggested the 23-year-old is like “David Beckham and Kevin De Bruyne at right-back” on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, and passes of the ilk produced in Lisbon will only enhance his reputation as one of the game’s best distributors.
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Incredibly, TAA has registered 16 assists for Liverpool this season across all competitions, a club-high, and while he will not bulk up that number with his mesmeric ball over the top against Benfica, his pass is one that will live long in the memory — and not the data-collecting record books.
His delivery comes just two days after Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports: “Harry Kane’s passing is as good as anyone else’s in the league… perfection.” Alexander-Arnold has now done his best to demonstrate that he is simply in a league of his own, above “perfection” in that case.
It is no wonder then that he has often been described as ‘more Brazilian than English’ in terms of his playing style at right-back, a sentiment echoed by some of the Selecao‘s greatest No.2s, not least Cafu and Dani Alves.
“He’s a sensational player, a rare talent,” Cafu recently told FIFA.com of Alexander-Arnold. “If he keeps playing the way he has been he will be regarded as one of the best players in the world.
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“He’s technically brilliant, he has so much quality. He has a Brazilian style of play.”
Dani Alves also offered his own eulogy recently, saying: “I admire Trent Alexander-Arnold very much.
“He’s a fantastic footballer – this guy has got world-class skills.”
Benfica ultimately grew into the game as the clock ticked on, reducing the deficit through Darwin Nunez, but a late Diaz goal swung the tie firmly back in Liverpool’s favour, and Alexander-Arnold’s contributions went a long way to ensuring the Reds got the job done against a very hostile crowd and a potentially awkward opponent.