Home Sports Gareth Southgate’s attempt to turn Trent Alexander-Arnold into England’s very own Andrea Pirlo was worth a go… but the experiment must end now – and he knows it

Gareth Southgate’s attempt to turn Trent Alexander-Arnold into England’s very own Andrea Pirlo was worth a go… but the experiment must end now – and he knows it

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The experiment of using Trent Alexander-Arnold as an England midfielder has not worked

The experiment was brave and its intentions admirable, but sometimes you have to accept the inevitable.

Surely Gareth Southgate will do it here in Germany after this listless night.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is an excellent footballer, but he is simply not an international-class central midfielder.

Of course not, he plays as a right back every week.

Southgate tried. It didn’t work. The England manager and Alexander-Arnold should put experience aside and move on.

The experiment of using Trent Alexander-Arnold as an England midfielder has not worked

He is an excellent footballer, but he is simply not an international-level midfielder.

He is an excellent footballer, but he is simply not an international-level midfielder.

Southgate spoke with the air of a man trying to gently let his player down when asked about Alexander-Arnold’s performance on Thursday night.

But everyone in the room could see where this is going.

“We have been trying to find a solution in midfield for seven or eight years,” Southgate explained.

‘If we hadn’t had Declan Rice, I don’t know where we would have been.

“Our biggest problem was that we didn’t press well enough as a team, so he (Alexander-Arnold) had all sorts of problems to solve without the ball – most of them he did very well.”

“Clearly you’re going to see different pictures when you’re there (central midfield) each week and he’s had moments where he’s made the passes we thought would be good.”

‘I know and I understand that you will always ask me about individuals, but the team didn’t work today. I have to find solutions to that.”

But his and England's shortcomings are not his fault. He was just doing what they asked of him.

But his and England’s shortcomings are not his fault. He was just doing what they asked of him.

England need control in midfield. Southgate must cancel his Alexander-Arnold trial

England need control in midfield. Southgate must cancel his Alexander-Arnold trial

Substituted against Serbia, Alexander-Arnold suffered the same ignominy here on Thursday

Substituted against Serbia, Alexander-Arnold suffered the same ignominy here on Thursday

“Finding solutions” – a term that strikes fear in any professional footballer. Alexander-Arnold is now preparing for the worst.

But this is not his fault. The Liverpool star simply did what he was asked.

The experiment certainly had its advantages. One of the best passers in Europe, the sight of Alexander-Arnold poetically swinging his right leg before clinically connecting to execute his next pass will remain one of the most elegant images in English football.

He can also make those perfect passes for England. But not from the center of the field anymore.

On paper, Southgate’s attempts to transform Alexander-Arnold into our own version of Andrea Pirlo paid off.

But reality has bitten. And bitten hard. Substituted in Sunday’s win over Serbia, Alexander-Arnold suffered the same ignominy here on Thursday night, but this time he was snagged well before the hour mark.

Alexander-Arnold looked sad when he struggled off in the 54th minute here in Frankfurt. But he and Southgate had better accept the future before it is too late.

So who will play alongside Rice in the future?

The attempt to transform the Liverpool star into our own Andrea Pirlo (left) paid off.

The attempt to transform the Liverpool star into our own Andrea Pirlo (left) paid off.

Alexander-Arnold looked sad as he trudged off in the 54th minute here in Frankfurt.

Alexander-Arnold looked sad as he trudged off in the 54th minute here in Frankfurt.

The smart bet would be for Conor Gallagher to replace Liverpool’s vice-captain in England’s engine room for Tuesday’s final Group C match against Slovenia.

The Chelsea star has replaced Alexander-Arnold in both of England’s matches here in Germany. Southgate admired his energy and his ability to press with an intensity that Alexander-Arnold has not been able to muster during the tournament so far.

But, most important of all, he actually plays in his club’s midfield.

Of course, he does not possess the passing ability that Alexander-Arnold does, nor does he have the ability to dictate the flow of a football match in the way Southgate ideally desires.

But he knows the position, there is a lot to say about it.

Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton are also options. But the duo are 19 and 20 years old, respectively; Starting in either would be a risk and would represent a huge leap of faith on the part of the conservative Southgate.

The most attractive prospect is to move Jude Bellingham, who has spent the tournament playing in an advanced midfield role, deeper in a positional swap that would free up Phil Foden to move into the number 10 role that the entire nation seems to be pining for him. . play.

The Liverpool star (centre right) watches from the bench after being substituted against Denmark.

The Liverpool star (centre right) watches from the bench after being substituted against Denmark.

Southgate wanted to deploy Bellingham in an advanced role because that is where he spent his season at Real Madrid so brilliantly.

But sometimes it is simply a matter of needs. England need control in midfield. Southgate must cancel his Alexander-Arnold trial.

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