Liverpool academy director Alex Inglethorpe has opened up about life as a youngster at Anfield, revealing that Trent Alexander-Arnold's progress has helped inspire the next generation of academy stars.
After years of shining as part of the club's academy, Alexander-Arnold was handed his debut for the first team in October 2016. He has gone from strength to strength, and now the 20-year-old is widely viewed as one of the finest right-backs around.
He said: "The thing I found interesting with Trent is that when he first broke into the team and when he came back to the Academy, the young players were really excited to see him but you kind of feel they are hoping it’s Mohamed Salah.
"Trent is really good and he has helped us out with the signings of the new Under-8s the last few years. He walked into the room [the day after the 4-0 win over Barcelona at Anfield] and you could see and feel there was a real buzz among the players and they wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there.
"If they could have picked any player they would have picked Trent. I think that’s a mark of how far he has come in terms of the thinking of the supporters and the young players here.
"The boy Trent is doing alright at the minute in terms of establishing himself and he’s getting closer to becoming an ever-present. The challenge is finding a way of getting into the team and staying in. First and foremost, they have got to take a world-class player’s shirt off him and then they have got to find a way of keeping it. Easier to say but harder to do, that’s the challenge."
Several academy graduates have featured for the senior side in recent years, and Inglethorpe revealed that his strong relationship with manager Jurgen Klopp has helped clear a pathway for the young players to reach the first team.
"There’s definitely a trust here to provide players and, touch wood, there’s not been any complaints about the quality of the players and the quality of the boys who are going up to Melwood," he added.
"The manager has been very complimentary and I think there has to be a trust from our side that when they are up there they are being taken care of with the work that is being done and you can see they are developing.
"You can see that whether it’s Curtis Jones, Rhian Brewster, Nat Phillips, Trent, Harry Wilson, they get better and they improve. Why wouldn’t they improve? Because they have got, in my opinion, the best manager in the world looking after them."