Jurgen Klopp cannot understand Gareth Southgate’s thinking, neither can Gary Linkeker.
It was not that long ago when the question was not about whether Trent Alexander-Arnold was the best right-back in English football, it was about whether he was the best right-back in world football.
Now, it seems, he is the FOURTH best right-back in English football, if we are being generous.
If you make a case for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and James Justin, Trent might even come in at number six.
And this is a player who took the mickey out of Barcelona not that long ago.
“Spot on from Klopp about @TrentAA,” tweeted Lineker on Saturday morning. “Of course he’ll be in the squad. So too will @JackGrealish. They simply have to be.”
Alas, they simply do not have to be. And while Grealish will probably, although not certainly, be in the squad, Alexander-Arnold has little chance of making it.
Unless injuries give him an avenue back in, Alexander-Arnold will not be at the Euros.
The bottom line is that Southgate has never been convinced. He took Alexander-Arnold to World Cup 2018 but only played him in a dead rubber against Belgium.
And now, Southgate’s alternatives make the Liverpool man surplus to requirements.
“If Trent Alexander-Arnold is not in the squad then England must have an extremely good squad,” said Klopp.
He is spot on. England do have an extremely good squad.
Probably the best they have had in some time.
But Klopp’s sarcasm is also understandable. Even at the tender age of 22, Alexander-Arnold, despite Southgate’s obvious reservations, has long been seen as an automatic international.
So much so that Klopp had not even considered the possibility of having to include Alexander-Arnold in his training plans during the international break.
And THAT is what makes Southgate’s decision all the more significant.
England has a coach who does not pick on reputation.
England has a coach who does not favour players from Big Six clubs.
England has a coach who knows his mind.
Alexander-Arnold is unfortunate in that there is stiff competition in his position.
Kyle Walker’s versatility makes him an obvious choice, Kieran Trippier is an automatic starter for the best team in Spain right now and Reece James is decent.
And yes, on form, you might even give Wan-Bissaka the nod ahead of Alexander-Arnold.
In his admirable speech of support for his full-back, Klopp actually gave the game away.
“He defends on a really high level for us as well,” said the Liverpool manager. “It is not his first skill but it is not bad.”
There it is, in a nutshell. England have a good squad, as Klopp suggests, but not good enough to include defenders whose prime skill is not defending.
That is why Southgate has excluded Alexander-Arnold and that is why he will not be in the 23-man squad – if it remains a 23-man squad – for the Euros..
And agree or not, you cannot deny one thing.
England has a manager who knows his mind.