Thiago is now a Liverpool player and that sets up an interesting meeting with Chelsea on Sunday. Two Reds will now be desperate to face the Blues.
Liverpool officially confirmed it on Friday – Thiago is a Red. More than that, they completed the transfer in time for the Spaniard to face Chelsea on Sunday.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play, of course. Thiago would only have been at the club for two days, after all, and that may not be enough time for Jurgen Klopp to trust him in such a big game.
Instead, it may be the last time to impress for the others and two, in particular, will want to stand out.
Fabinho is ‘safe’ in his position. Liverpool don’t have another specialised defensive, holding player and thus the Brazilian shouldn’t really be under any threat. Jordan Henderson, too, can rest easy. The captain is one of the best and most important players in the team, something shown off by his Football Writer’s Association Player of the Year award.
Both players can feel assured in their places as first-choice.
Curtis Jones won’t be too worried, either. He’s only a teenager and won’t expect too much regular playing time anyway. Hopefully, Thiago will prove to be a wonderful tutor for the Scouser.
But three players will want to impress as fast as they can – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum.
Now, Oxlade-Chamberlain is out with an injury and will have to wait his chance. The other two, though, will target Chelsea as something of a last chance.
It’s harsh on Wijnaldum but that’s the reality of his situation. He’s currently out of contract in a year and thus ‘low priority’. In other words, he’s not the one to invest time into. If others can play, they surely will – unless he’s outperforming them.
Keita, too, is in a similar situation for different reasons. He’s now been at the club for two years but still hasn’t ‘clicked’ the way anyone hoped. We’re still waiting for him to find regular, top form and Thiago’s arrival is a tricky one for him.
It’s not only another competitor but another technical, ball-playing midfielder. An elite one, too, who will provide as good an alternative to Keita as possible.
We expect Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago to be the regular midfield trio. But in games where Klopp rests one or someone can’t play, the next-in-line is up for debate.
Should it be the proven Wijnaldum? He’s a great player but could well leave for free at the end of the season. Giving him minutes takes them away from Keita, who could be a long-term fixture in the first-team if he finally finds his form.
If Thiago doesn’t start against Chelsea – and we don’t think he’s going to – then one of Keita or Wijnaldum will. And in that case, a star showing is imperative if they’re to head into the season with anything like a regular role.
Fail to perform and the other will take their place as next-in-line. And that’s a difficult position to come back from.