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Players Playing in Different Roles for Their Countries

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
© Ace Football

International football presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for players, often requiring them to adapt to roles different from those they play at their clubs.

Whether due to necessity or tactical experiments by national team managers, these position shifts can lead to surprising results. Let’s explore several players who play different positions for their countries compared to their club duties.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: From Right Back to Midfield Maestro?

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has established himself as one of the best attacking right-backs in the world, known for his pinpoint crosses and creativity. However, England manager Gareth Southgate sees potential in Trent as a midfielder, a position he has occupied especially during the Euros. This experiment has sparked debate, with Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believing Trent excels best in his natural right-back role. Two games into the tournament, many are questioning Southgate’s decision, calling for Trent to return to his familiar defensive position. What do you think?

Alphonso Davies: From Defensive Duties to Attacking Prowess

Alphonso Davies, renowned for his blistering pace, is a key player for Bayern Munich as a left-back. His defensive responsibilities are substantial, but for Canada, Davies takes on a more advanced role as a left winger. This switch was evident at the Qatar World Cup when he scored Canada’s first-ever goal in the tournament, showcasing his attacking abilities. Davies’ versatility allows him to excel in both defensive and offensive roles, highlighting his exceptional talent.

Kylian Mbappé: Adapting to the Number 9 Role

Kylian Mbappé has repeatedly expressed his preference for playing on the left wing. However, France manager Didier Deschamps often deploys him as a number 9, utilizing his supreme talent to lead the attack. With Mbappé’s skill set, he thrives in any offensive position, a versatility that Deschamps leverages effectively. This positional adaptability might become more crucial as Mbappé could find it challenging to displace Vini Jr. at Real Madrid.

Phil Foden: Misplaced on the Left?

Phil Foden recently enjoyed his best season, being named PFA Player of the Season. However, his form hasn’t translated to the international stage for England, largely due to his positioning. Southgate has confined Foden to the left wing, where his impact has been minimal. Many believe Foden excels in central roles or coming off the right, positions currently occupied by Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka. The upcoming games will be crucial for Foden to prove his worth in Southgate’s system.

Scott McTominay: From Defensive Midfielder to False Nine

At Manchester United, Scott McTominay is primarily deployed as a holding midfielder, focusing on defensive duties. In contrast, for Scotland, he enjoys a more attacking role, often playing as a false nine. This freedom allows him to get on the end of crosses and scoring opportunities, a role he relishes. While some United fans advocate for a similar position at the club, it’s unlikely he’ll surpass the likes of Bruno Fernandes.

Andy Robertson: Defensive Duties for Scotland

Andy Robertson is one of the best left-backs globally, often contributing to Liverpool’s attack. However, for Scotland, Robertson’s role is more defensive due to the team’s overall strength. This positional shift limits his forward runs, making him a more traditional defender. Despite this, Robertson finds immense joy in representing his country, even if it means sacrificing his attacking contributions.

Oleksandr Zinchenko: Midfield Maestro for Ukraine

Oleksandr Zinchenko plays as a left-back for Arsenal but takes on a central midfield role for Ukraine. His ability to pass and carry the ball makes him a natural fit in midfield, allowing him to drive the team forward. This experience has also enhanced his contributions as an attacking left-back for Arsenal, showcasing his well-rounded skills.

Kieran Trippier: Right Back to Left Back

Kieran Trippier, typically Southgate’s preferred right-back, has had to adapt to playing left-back during this year’s Euros due to Luke Shaw’s injury. This unfamiliar role has led to mixed performances, highlighting the challenges of positional changes. Whether Trippier continues in this role depends on Shaw’s fitness, adding an element of uncertainty to England’s defensive setup.