Signing Thiago could see Liverpool drift towards a new style of play. Reports claim the Reds would like to bring in the Bayern Munich midfielder.
Liverpool reportedly want Thiago, according to the Independent – although, that’s no guarantee they’ll actually get him. There are a few things at play, in fact.
Firstly, do Liverpool want to pay the £30m fee Bayern want? That isn’t even the most pressing issue, though, as the Reds aren’t sure they have space for the 29-year-old.
The squad is packed with midfielders as it is but things could change if Gini Wijnaldum leaves the club. The Dutchman is in the final year of his contract and Liverpool may sell him to make room.
We believe that could bring about a change in system. And if Thiago is indeed the planned replacement, then we think Liverpool are heading in a specific direction.
Wijnaldum is a box-to-box midfielder. He’s capable of defending on the edge of his own box, while threatening the opposition goal in the same game. He can tackle, he can dribble, he can pass – and he’s got the energy to do it all.
We think he’s one of the absolute best box-to-box players in the world. Possibly the outright best. That means Liverpool can play a certain way, with Jordan Henderson on the other side of Fabinho.
Wijnaldum and the captain can both play disciplined roles, able to adapt to whatever situation Liverpool are in. Do they need to press? They can do that. Do they need to push into the opposition box? They can do that. Do they need to pass patiently? They can do that. And they can do the opposite of each, too.
Thus Liverpool have a functional midfield. The full-backs and forward players can focus on their own jobs and the midfield fills the gaps, wherever they may be.
Without Wijnaldum there, things wouldn’t work the same. Especially with Thiago instead, who is a far more specialised player. Thiago wants to pick the ball up deep and play intricate passes. He wants to make the team tick in a passing game.
And if Liverpool want the player, then that style is where they’re headed. Especially if they’re losing a key player to make it happen.
So Liverpool with Thiago would naturally look different. They’d look to him to start moves more often, look to control the ball more, and play a possession game. That wouldn’t be much of a change against smaller sides but against other elite teams, that’s a big change.
And it could be permanent.
Looking to the future
One interesting thing about potentially signing Thiago is his age. He’s 29 and Liverpool virtually never sign players that old. So why Thiago?
It may well be that with his experience and ability, he’s the ideal player to move Liverpool towards that passing game. He can come in and effectively teach a new style in every game, getting players used to it.
That’s particularly beneficial for the likes of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott. Young players who are the long-term future. This next season is a key one for their development as it will be their first true senior experience. They played the back-end of the last campaign but the title was already won.
So with Thiago in the side, the future of Liverpool would learn a new style at a key time. And it’s the style that could come to dominate the team for a long time to come.