Star who 'destroyed' Trent Alexander-Arnold proved Liverpool ace right after being released

Trent Alexander-Arnold of England trains during a training session at Rockliffe Park on June 02, 2024 in Darlington, England.
-Credit: (Image: Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Ex-Manchester City youngster Brandon Barker is currently looking for a new club following his departure from Morecambe. That comes after Liverpool vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold earlier admitted that the winger is still one of the toughest opponents he has ever faced.

Alexander-Arnold has faced numerous illustrious players throughout his career, but admitted to the Liverpool YouTube channel last season that his 2016 showdown with the City U21s years ago still resonates with him. The Reds' right-back was part of the team that suffered a 3-0 loss at Anfield, and Barker was the orchestrator of Manchester City's win.

Asked to name a player who never fulfilled his potential, Alexander-Arnold remembered that match and pinpointed Barker. Narrating his ordeal, he said: "I would say Brandon Barker, played for [Manchester] City. I was playing for the Under-21s, first-ever time at Anfield, got beat 3-0. He scored two and got an assist. I came off at 60 [minutes]."

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Profoundly scarred by that experience, Alexander-Arnold admitted: "Still to this day, he's the opponent I think that just destroyed me, man. I've never had it like that before. At that point, I'm thinking 'this kid is going to be the best player in the world '. Because I'd never seen someone move so quickly and sharp and so effectively."

Despite remembering that game, he slightly mixed up Barker's contributions — the winger actually netted once and set up two more. But his feelings about that unforgettable tussle still ring true.

After that clash, the players' careers took contrasting paths. Barker penned a brief contract with League Two outfit Morecambe in January, having been without a club since his departure from Cypriot side Omonia, where he had the opportunity to play against Manchester United in the Europa League.

The 27-year-old winger made a swift impact with two appearances for the Shrimps, but was sidelined for the rest of the season due to a severe hamstring injury. Last month, Morecambe confirmed that Barker hadn't been offered a contract extension and was among several senior players on the hunt for a new team.

A decade ago, Barker's future seemed bright as he was crowned City's academy player of the year. However, the promising star found the transition to the first team challenging, making only a single appearance for his childhood club.

In a way, his experiences prove Alexander-Arnold right. For one thing, the Liverpool star certainly won't be eating his words about Barker not living up to his potential any time soon.

But much more significantly, Barker's journey underlines the need to support academy players. Alexander-Arnold has set up The After Academy (aptly initialed TAA), designed to help those who drop out of the system find new career paths within sport.

Barker, for his part, did manage to continue in the professional game beyond academy level. After spells at Rotherham United and Preston, as well as Dutch side NAC Breda and also Hibernian, he secured a permanent move to Rangers in 2019.

But Barker struggled to make an impression under Steven Gerrard at Ibrox, leading to a loan spell at Oxford United — although he did receive a 2021 league winners' medal for his part in Rangers' unbeaten season. He briefly joined Reading after being released in January 2022.

Despite his difficulties at Ibrox, former Rangers teammate Andy Halliday maintains that Barker's talent was always evident to those around him.

"Brandon Barker. One of the best trainers I have ever seen," Halliday declared. "I know for a fact if you ask anyone who has played with him at any club — whether it's Hibs or Preston — they'd all say the same thing."

"He was at Man City when he was younger and apparently he was the one coming through at Man City at that time," he continued. "Honestly, in training, he would get the ball off the goalie, dribble by the full team and score. I'm not saying people thought Brandon Barker was s**** but fans would say he's not good enough, but in training..." says: It's a sad story, but not an altogether uncommon one. Alexander-Arnold has identified an important cause with his 'TAA' initative.

Barker is still young enough to continue his career, and Morecambe demonstrated that there are still clubs willing to take a chance on him. But serious injuries like the one he suffered will only make things harder, and the heights of being named Player of the Year at the Man City academy feel very distant.

This article was compiled from source material with the help of AI tools. You can view the original story on the Mirror.