‘That was special’ – has ‘magnificent’ Bradley given Klopp a headache?

Just before Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a knee injury earlier this month there was much discussion about where he should play for Liverpool – at right-back or in midfield.

However, the emergence of Conor Bradley in Alexander-Arnold’s favoured position might just have settled the debate.

The 20-year-old Northern Ireland international has got better with every appearance at right-back this year, culminating in him scoring his first Liverpool goal in Wednesday’s 4-1 Premier League win for the table toppers against Chelsea, as well as providing two assists.

His displays certainly give Reds boss Jurgen Klopp a bit of a headache.

Alexander-Arnold, once rated by the legendary Cafu as one of the best full-backs in the world, cannot remain on the bench, but equally, it would be unjust to drop Bradley.

“He was absolutely magnificent,” said former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler on TNT Sports.

“Every Liverpool player was brilliant but that was a special performance.

“The manager will have a headache now because I’m not sure you can leave him out of the side. Anyone who went over his side, he defended unbelievably.”

Conor Bradley celebrates scoring against Chelsea

‘It feels like I’m in a dream’

Barely 12 months ago Bradley was playing in League One for Bolton.

Fast forward to the present day and he is proving to be an important player for a side sitting at the top of the Premier League.

“It’s a very proud moment, something I dreamed of for a long time,” Bradley told TNT Sports. “It feels like I’m in a dream. It’s unbelievable.

“I just couldn’t believe it went in. I didn’t know what to do. I went over to the corner and did a knee slide. It was brilliant.”

Asked for an assessment of his own performances since Alexander-Arnold got injured, Bradley added: “I just had to try to take my chance. I feel I’ve done pretty well.”

Bradley said the shock news of Klopp’s decision to leave the club at the end of the season is providing him and his team-mates the motivation to step up in the second half of the season as they look to win multiple trophies.

“What a wonderful kid he is,” Klopp said of Bradley.

“Outstanding finish, the whole game, the contribution, the involvement. It’s a job to play against [Raheem] Sterling, that’s not easy. I’m really happy for him.

“He’s a very serious young man and that was pretty special I have to say. We saw in pre-season. He is really doing well.

“A few weeks ago when I was in holiday a few Bolton fans asked if they could have Bradley back but it’s too late!”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hugs Conor Bradley

Just how good has Bradley been?

After Alexander-Arnold’s injury was confirmed, Bradley came into the Liverpool starting XI for League Cup fixture game with Fulham on 10 January and did not look out of place as the Reds won 2-1.

He got an assist in his first Premier League start – the 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth on 21 January – and followed that up with this goal and two more assists against Chelsea.

Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “We don’t want to go too early on Conor Bradley, but when someone comes into a team of Liverpool’s stature then of course there is always comparisons.

“The early signs are he defensively looks sound, his goal was so impressive with his composure and how he found the far corner.

“He barely wasted a pass and looks like a really mature player, physically he looks excellent and like all the Liverpool players he can really handle the ball.”

Conor Bradley in action for Liverpool against Chelsea

Ex-Scotland international Ally McCoist, on co-commentary for TNT Sports, described Bradley as “a breath of fresh air” since coming into the side.

“The Liverpool fans are loving him, and so they should,” he added.

“It is a good message that Jurgen Klopp has stuck with Conor Bradley and Joe Gomez over Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

“Klopp is saying ‘you have to work your way back’, there is so many games that they will work their way back in anyway.

“But fair play to Bradley and Gomez they have been outstanding.”

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand described Bradley as “phenomenal”.

“This kid Conor Bradley has said ‘listen, we have another right-back who will be doing bits in the game’,” he said on TNT Sports.

“He was nothing short of phenomenal in that first half. Nothing has got by him and you look at the position [where he scored from], he shifts it out and it’s a fabulous finish.”

Klopp’s farewell tour could hardly have got off to a better start with a 5-2 win against Norwich in the FA Cup and this thrashing of Chelsea in the Premier League.

He will have some big decisions to make as he looks to bow out with more silverware and how to tackle the emergence of Bradley, and the return to fitness of Alexander-Arnold.

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