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Sunday 22 July 2018

Alexander-Arnold relishing Ronaldo battle in Kiev

Trent Alexander-Arnold. Photo: PA
Trent Alexander-Arnold. Photo: PA

Trent Alexander-Arnold is relishing the chance to cap his breakthrough season by going up against Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final.

While Ronaldo has been at the summit of the game for over a decade and is aiming to become a five-time European champion in Kiev, Alexander-Arnold's first full season around the Liverpool first team is just approaching its thrilling conclusion.

The 19-year-old admits it will be a pleasure to share the field with a star he once watched online as as a child but has no fear.

"With Ronaldo being one of the greats, probably one of the best players ever, it's going to be an honour to hopefully play against him," he said.

"You know a lot about him and the likes of (Lionel) Messi because you watch them on YouTube when you're growing up, you always watch those type of players.

"I want to challenge myself and test myself against the best players in the world and there's not many people better than the likes of Ronaldo. It will be a huge test for everyone and hopefully we come out on top."

Having grown up within kicking distance of Melwood, Alexander-Arnold's Scouse credentials do not allow him to skim past Ronaldo's time at Manchester United and is just as ready to consider the Portuguese a rival as a hero.

"Yeah, I suppose (I was a fan of his), not when he was playing for Man Utd though!" he said.

Unbelievable

"You have to admit he's an unbelievable player and he's done exceptional things in the game. The numbers that he does season in, season out are absolutely unbelievable, but come May 26 we'll be looking to stop him and the rest of Real Madrid.

"You've just got to focus on the game and if he's a direct opponent you have to see what the strengths and weaknesses are and use them to your advantage."

Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum admits the dream of joining the ranks of Champions League "legends" is driving the players to succeed in Kiev later this month.

Despite winning the competition five times, Liverpool have been starved of success among Europe's elite since their last victory in Istanbul 13 years ago.

In Ukraine they face Real Madrid, the defending champions who have won three of the last four finals to extend the club's all-time record to 12 victories - five more than anyone else.

The Real side already contain their fair share of the game's greats but Wijnaldum believes Liverpool's players can write their own piece of history.

"You can put yourself there with legends that won the Champions League. That's what everyone wants," said the Holland international.

"That is what makes it really exciting for us, because we have the opportunity now to win a big trophy with a massive club waiting for a lot of years for a trophy.

"We are lucky that we can give them one if we win."

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