Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists under-scrutiny right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is being judged wrongly and he does not understand why his critics do not comprehend that.
The debate continues to rage about the 23-year-old’s suitability for England after national team boss Gareth Southgate failed to use him in Nations League matches against Italy and Germany, leaving him out of the squad entirely for the latter.
Focus remains on Alexander-Arnold’s defensive weaknesses but Klopp said people misunderstand the reasons for that and put it down to an individual deficiency rather than a collective team problem.
“We do high press and Trent is often the highest of all those at the back. That is the way we play football,” he said.
“You can say ‘you should defend better’ but you cannot have everything because if you want to play high press you need players in specific positions.
“It is not a crazy risk and we win the ball nine out of 10 times but in the one moment we don’t win it, people ask ‘where is Trent?’
“That is a question that I don’t understand from people who watch football so often.
“Yes, there are other situations where he was not aware (enough) or there was a challenge he should have won but every player in the league has these challenges.
“But with him? Every time it is picked up and analysed, all the experts saying this is a weakness. Honestly, I just don’t get that part of it.
“A world-class talent gets judged by the one thing he is not as world class at as the other things. If he was not a good defender, he would not play.
“Defensively it is not possible that one guy defends the whole pitch. You need everybody involved and we were not good at that (this season).
“Trent did not do well in these moments as well (but) in other moments he defends exceptionally well but for him – in his situation – nobody mentions it.”
Klopp is not naive enough to think there are not areas of the right-back’s game which cannot be improved.
But he is willing to accept the pay-off for utilising his unique talents.
“I am not dumb. I would talk to him all day about it and work all day to be the best but if you judge a player you think about his overall package,” the German added ahead of the visit of Brighton.
“The skill set he has for being influential in possession is mad for a right-back.
“I don’t know if I ever saw a right-back like this – passing here, passing there, switching sides, taking free-kicks, corners, smart decisions, quick decisions.
“He is an outstanding football player in a situation where three other right-backs in this country are doing really well. We should not forget that.
“So the view on that is how influential can Trent be? That is number one. What is he good at? That is how you judge a player.”