Soccer  

Klopp bites back at Neville’s criticism of Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Gary Neville after the former Manchester United captain said Trent Alexander-Arnold could cost England in a knockout game in the World Cup.

The 24-year-old was picked in England’s World Cup squad on Thursday but before the announcement, Neville doubted whether Gareth Southgate could trust the defender at the tournament after he was fortunate not to concede a penalty in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

“In this moment in time, I can’t see how Gareth can go into a knockout game in a World Cup playing Trent Alexander-Arnold,” Nevile told Sky Sports.

Speaking in a news conference on Friday ahead of the Premier League clash against Southampton, Klopp responded: “I didn’t speak to him [about the England call-up], but I know Trent now for long enough and he knows that apart from playing football, he has no influence [on the squad selection]. There’s a lot of talk around these kinds of things.

“I heard Gary Neville said something on the big games, like he can’t play in the knockout games. But Trent Alexander-Arnold is now 24 and won quite a few finals, important games where you have to defend.

“He’s played finals — against Chelsea, for example, last year in a final that was incredibly intense — facing world-class players who are better than the players they will face at the World Cup, definitely. And he was always there, defending well. I don’t know why we have this discussion, but it’s fine.

“I am not sure he was in doubt but with all the discussions — at least the discussions I followed — if everyone had been available it was likely you don’t take four right-backs.

“Trent took it, he is very calm. He plays the football he plays, tries to improve, tries to develop, but I think he would have been disappointed if he had not been there.”

Following the World Cup break, Liverpool’s campaign resumes on Dec. 20 with a League Cup round-of-16 game at Manchester City and though Klopp said he had “no idea” about the team he would pick for the clash, messages exchanged with his players would certainly help.

“We have seven at the World Cup. They are very important players,” he added. “We have a clear rule, how it is with international games: the boys have to text me straight away if there are any issues after a game.

“If they are winning, it is clear because the WhatsApp group will go bonkers… We’re in Dubai around the corner if someone needs to leave the World Cup early, they can join us. That’s one of the reasons we go there.”

Information from Reuters was included in this report.