Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has admitted it is hard to avoid reading criticism of his performances this season. Alexander-Arnold has been the subject of much discussion ahead of Tuesday’s announcement of the England squad to play in this summer’s European Championships.
Like most of Liverpool’s team, he has endured a rollercoaster season, with a dip in the middle followed by an upturn in form in recent months as Jurgen Klopp’s side rallied to finish third.
The 22-year-old ended the season with seven assists and two goals in the Premier League – a reduction from the four goals and 13 assists he recorded in the previous campaign.
His defensive ability has been repeatedly questioned by pundits, with Tony Cascarino and Steve Nicol among those unconvinced by his qualities.
Cascarino said in April that he has “not had a good season defensively”, while Nicol said in January that “defensively, he has to improve a tonne”.
The right-back has undoubtedly improved as the season has gone on, with his passing range, dangerous crosses and attacking intent coming to the fore.
However, according to The Athletic, he is still set to miss out on inclusion in Gareth Soutgate’s squad for the Euros, with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Reece James all above him in the pecking order.
Alexander-Arnold says that, although he can’t avoid seeing the discussion around his performances, he tries to not let it affect him.
“I don’t actively go looking to find it but yeah it’s been everywhere,” he told The Athletic. “Everyone has an opinion on stuff like that. It’s there on Monday Night Football or Match of the Day and they are programmes I watch. There’s been a lot of talk about me and it’s difficult to hide away from it.
“But I’d say I’ve got a buffer of reading things and not allowing it to get to me. I can read it or hear it and then just put it to the side. It’s not that it upsets me or fires me up in terms of creating a siege mentality.”
Despite being only 22, Alexander-Arnold is fairly experienced, having made his initial breakthrough into Klopp’s squad aged just 18.
He says that while also working on his game on the pitch, he has developed a thicker skin to help him deal with the valid criticism and social media abuse off it.
“Yeah, I’d say it came over time,” he said.
“At first, everything you read about yourself as a young player you believe is true. You think it’s real when that’s not really the case.
“I came to understand that, even though a lot of people offer their opinions, there are only a select few whose opinion really matters.
“Those are the people who make the decisions about your career and whether you play or not. Those are the people I listen to. Those are the ones I care about the most.”