Richard Buxton: European stage set for Alexander-Arnold
His England chances will rest on Champions League showings, not EPL outings
Trent Alexander-Arnold is in danger of falling into an age-old trap for English players.
Homegrown talents who represent their country are, by nature, excessively hyped for simultaneously plying their trade in the self-proclaimed "greatest league in the world".
Many do their utmost to steer clear of the inevitable noises that surround them.
Alexander-Arnold, too, has taken a humble approach even when his fledgling career scaled remarkable heights.
He famously reflected on winning the Champions League by saying that he was "just a normal lad from Liverpool whose dream has come true".
Those words are now immortalised in stone on a mural which lies a few hundred metres from the gates of Anfield. At that venue tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Juergen Klopp's side will seek to overturn a 3-1 deficit in their Champions League quarter-final, second-leg clash against Real Madrid.
In recent days, Alexander-Arnold has made more service announcements than most MRT stations relay in an average month.
Each display is interpreted as sending a message to Gareth Southgate and those who believe his England omission was justified.
Cheerleaders for the Reds' attacking fullback seem to have Southgate mistaken for a stereotypically insular Englishman who casually ignores Europe's elite club competition.
Unwittingly, Alexander-Arnold has been guilty of feeding into the frenzy after reacting to scoring a stoppage-time winner against Aston Villa, produced in full view of his observing national team manager last Saturday.
The 22-year-old captioned a photo of himself celebrating the goal on Twitter with the words "Are you not entertained?".
But fleeting moments of brilliance in the victories over Villa and Arsenal do not make a mockery of Southgate's decision to stand him down for last month's international break.
Vinicius Junior's ease in ghosting past Alexander-Arnold during Real's chastening first-leg win in the Spanish capital is more indelibly imprinted in the Three Lions boss' mind than an assist and a sumptuous last-minute strike.
Alexander-Arnold has not become a bad defender overnight.
For all the claims of failing to fulfil his basic duties, he was part of a Liverpool backline who conceded the fewest number of goals in the English Premier League during the previous two campaigns.
His flaws, however, are becoming magnified due to a downturn in creativity.
The prospect of finishing this season with single-figure assists appears a near-certainty, as he has just four in the EPL with seven games to go. The fullback racked up 25 over the past two campaigns.
A place in England's Euro 2020 squad lies at the mercy of Klopp's fallen champions continuing to traverse the fine line between glorious success and abject failure.
The script is almost pre-written for Alexander-Arnold to step up against Real and produce another feat of escapology with his boyhood club needing to complete an improbable comeback to down La Liga opposition, just as they did in 2019.
Back then, his tee-up for Divock Origi's decisive goal in the Champions League semi-final became etched into footballing folklore.
Barcelona's trophy-laden defence found itself caught cold by a deceptive corner which was derived of pure street smarts.
A repeat performance to help tip the balance in this last-eight tie would not only provide much-needed salvation to Liverpool, but also his own prospects for this summer's Euros.
Southgate did not pick Alexander-Arnold for successive international tournaments on the strength of his ability to prevent goals, but rather the ones he helps make possible.
If he is to find favour again for England, he will need to do both against Los Blancos.