Liverpool officially announced a new member of their midfield on Friday in Thiago Alcantara. The player shouldn’t struggle as previous arrivals did, though.
After what seems like years, Liverpool finally announced Thiago on Friday. Links between the two have gone on all summer but the Reds finally have their man.
The BBC say he’ll cost around £20m – although, that could rise to £25m with add-ons. The player will wear the number 6 and it’s a four-year contract.
So, finally, it’s all done. The question now, then, is how will he fit in?
It’s worth considering the last two premium additions to Liverpool’s midfield. Both happened in 2018 and both came in for big fees – Fabinho and Naby Keita.
Fabinho came out of nowhere, really. Liverpool’s interest came out on the same day they announced him. It was a whirlwind deal that saw the Brazilian arrive for £39m.
Keita was the exact opposite. We knew he was coming for a full year in advance, with Liverpool agreeing a deal with RB Leipzig in 2017. He finally joined in 2018, though, for around £53m.
But despite the big fees and the quality of each, neither fit in right away. Fabinho, for one, didn’t play until September and didn’t start a Premier League game until late in October. Tellingly, he didn’t start a big game in Liverpool’s preferred 4-3-3 until the following March.
Keita started the first game of Liverpool’s season that year but in all truth, we’re still waiting for him to fit in. It’s been two years now but the Guinean still doesn’t quite click with the system or the players.
A better fit
Thiago, though, shouldn’t have the same problems thanks to his experience.
Fabinho had a clear issue when he arrived – he hadn’t played 4-3-3. He was used to AS Monaco’s 4-2-3-1, which meant he always had a partner helping him protect the defence. He was never isolated and thus had more flexibility in his role.
At Liverpool, however, he had to play differently. He was all-out on defence, with both midfield partners worrying about other things, like covering the wings and attacking. Fabinho had to learn his role and the discipline that comes with it.
It appears Jurgen Klopp didn’t see it until the following March.
And with Keita, he remains unproven. The player thrived with RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig but the leap to Liverpool was substantial. It’s one he still hasn’t come to terms with. Fabinho had won Ligue 1 with Monaco, after all, and made a Champions League semi-final. The jump wasn’t as big for him.
Keita had to play with new pressure and a different mentality. He hasn’t quite caught up.
But Thiago shouldn’t suffer either problem. For one, he’s played 4-3-3 for years with both Bayern Munich and Barcelona. He’s even played 4-2-3-1 with Bayern, too, and knows both systems inside out.
The Spaniard is also not a player who struggles with pressure. 11 league titles out of 12 show his pedigree, for one. Thiago has just helped Bayern to a Treble this year on top of that, so this isn’t a player who will need a new mentality.
All signs point to a seamless transition. Thiago knows any midfield system Liverpool will play and knows both pressure and high-energy football. Not only have Liverpool got an elite player but they’ve got one who ticks virtually every box they want.