'Now he needs a long ice bath' - Jurgen Klopp with a curious reward for Liverpool's newest hero
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Trent Alexander-Arnold as his ‘little hero’ after the young full-back inspired the Reds to a vital 2-1 away win in the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Hoffenheim.
Making his debut in a major European competition, Alexander-Arnold served up a sumptuous first half free-kick to fire Liverpool into a lead and produced a mature performance in Germany.
“Our little hero, what can I say,” declared a beaming Klopp. “He only plays because he is good and he has to improve in all parts of the game, that is clear, but offensively he is nice to watch and defensively very good as welll. He needs to develop, but he was great. Now he needs a long ice bath, a warm bed and recovery.
"He is an incredible young player. It was actually because I told him he had to do it - he was the only one who can. He can shoot free-kicks better than I ever could.
“It was my decision he takes the free-kick. I watch him in the under-23 games and he scores in those and shows he is good at free-kicks. They practice a lot after training and it makes sense for him to take it. It helps the manager tells him (to take it).
"It was very important for us. When Phil (Coutinho) is on the pitch, he takes all of the free-kicks, but I was quite confident that it would be at least a chance for him. So it proved to be a goal.”
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard joined the chorus of praise for 18-year-old Alexander-Arnold, as he gave his verdict in his role as BT Sport pundit.
“It was a fantastic strike and what a night for the kid,” declared Gerrard. “To step up and take that free kick ahead of the likes of (Jordan) Henerson and (Sadio) Mane, it says a lot about the him.
“I know this kid well. He is going to be a top, top player. Nathaniel Clyne has to be very careful this season because he is going to be breathing down his neck this season. He is ready for the big time. I’m absolutely delighted for him.”
Klopp was keen to warn his team against complacency ahead of the second leg of the tie against Hoffenheim at Anfield next week, with a place in the Champions League group stages now within reach.
“Hoffenheim had a specific plan to play. We gambled a little too much on the wing, it was a little dangerous in the first half, but as always when we play football, we found spaces in-between and created wonderful chances,”
“The result is OK. The first half is done and if you said before the game we would win, I would take the result. Not a perfect result, but okay.
“We had more chances to close the game earlier, but the opponents also had chances so we accept the 2-1 and now I am looking forward to a European night at Anfield. Only the person who does not know about Hoffenheim can be surprised by this.”