The Warm-Up: Liverpool have homegrown hero, but it's the end of Ross Barkley
We would describe Trent Alexander-Arnold's progress as meteoric - but seeing as meteors go down very quickly before crashing to earth in a fireball, we'll save that description for Ross Barkley.
WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Trent Alexander-Arnold scores screamer, Merseyside swoons
Football is obsessed with numbers. But there’s one data point it has not yet broken down, analysed and quantified: the sheer goodwill when a local player does well.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is a Scouser. The only Scouser in Liverpool’s squad last night. He’s 18, and also their longest-serving first-teamer, having joined the club in 2004 aged six.
And he is not just filling in adequately for the injured Nathaniel Clyne, but absolutely smashing it.
When your teenage right-back thumps in a 25-yard free-kick in a Champions League play-off, it’s time to cast aside concerns about a lack of spending and simply enjoy the moment.
Similar story at Tottenham. The Warm Up thought Kyle Walker had done a Jessica Ennis – but no – he’s left and been replaced by Edmonton’s Kyle Walker-Peters. And the fans love it.
At the risk of fun-spongeing this segment, clubs are usually right not to back local talent.
Manchester United are criticised for their failure to bring though a crop of players like the Class of ’92.
In fact, United have produced a great many solid Premier League players since then.
And if Phil Bardsley, Robbie Brady, Fraizer Campbell, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley, Danny Drinkwater, Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Paddy McNair, Paul McShane, Anthony Pilkington, Ryan Shawcross and Danny Simpson are no longer at Old Trafford, it’s because all are good but not quite good enough for Old Trafford.
Watford's Miguel Britos celebrates scoring their third goal with Tom Cleverley as Liverpool's Emre Can (L) and James Milner (R) looks dejectedReuters
Nor is this new. The Warm-Up remembers reading a Liverpool fan’s letter to FourFourTwo in 2004 urging the club not to buy a Michael Owen replacement, but to put faith in Neil Mellor. An admirable sentiment, but it turned out Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez were better.
But there does come a point where bang-average players become so expensive, teams will take a chance on a youth prospect instead.
That point may well have come yesterday.
So sure, Liverpool could have spent £25m on someone like Joel Ward instead. But they wouldn’t have got much of up an upgrade, and they wouldn’t have had this:
Everton agree £45m Sigurdsson deal
Alternatively, you could just sack off Ross Barkley and pay £45m for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
It feels like a lot for a player who never quite made it at Tottenham, and who won’t so thoroughly dominate the goals and assists charts at Everton with more talented players – and set piece takers – around him.
But hey, Everton have Luka-kash burning a hole in their pocket and Sigurdsson is lovely to watch. So why on earth not?
Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam LallanaGetty Images
For Barkley, the search continues for a club willing to pay him £150k-a-week – get to China quick smart, Ross, before the whole thing falls apart.
Barkley has skill, but routinely makes awful decisions in the final third and – at 23 – hardly qualifies for ‘work in progress’ status anymore.
He is what he is; an electric dribbler worth five screamers a season, but nobody’s idea of a reliable number 10.
IN OTHER NEWS
Who says there’s no value anymore?
HEROES AND ZEROES
Heroes: Stoke City
What better way for Stoke to honour the Premier League’s 25th anniversary than by increasing to five their number of players who have won the Champions League before and probably won’t again.
Jese Rodriguez (snark aside, actually a pretty exciting signing) will join Bojan, Darren Fletcher, Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay in the Potteries – making Stoke the Premier League side with the most Champions League winners.
Zeroes: Aston Villa
RETRO HAT TIP
The first-ever Premier League Match of the Day was on the Red Button last night – you’ll be astonished to learn Adam Hurrey was among those watching.
Alas, the programme is no longer available, so you’ll have to make do with the first couple of minutes.