Liverpool’s title credentials for the 2020/21 campaign were firmly laid down at Stamford Bridge at the weekend following the Reds’ stunning 2-0 victory against Chelsea.
The Premier League champions were a class above Frank Lampard’s Blues in almost every department as Liverpool oozed quality from start-to-finish.
The introduction of Thiago Alcantara in the second half offered supporters the first real insight into Thiago’s undeniable quality and provided a tantalising glimpse as to how the Spaniard’s arrival will add a new dimension to Klopp’s midfield.
Thiago was progressive in the way he played and there was a striking example where he avoided a simple sideways pass to Trent Alexander-Arnold and instead, altered his body to find Mohamed Salah which simultaneously took three to four Chelsea players out of the game in one swift movement.
It certainly wetted supporters appetite as to what is to come during Thiago’s time at Liverpool and even Klopp couldn’t help but show his admiration for his new No.6 after making a b-line for Thiago after the final whistle.
With that in mind, we have a wish list of four players who would benefit from the tactical changes that could come with Thiago’s arrival.
Let’s start with the obvious beneficiary following Thiago’s Anfield arrival and that is Brazilian powerhouse Fabinho.
Fabinho, 26, was able to offer Klopp another element in defence as the midifelder’s ability on the ball made Liverpool much more organised and assured from the back.
Also, his disciplined and patient approach off the ball was one of the many qualities that set aside Fabinho as Liverpool’s standout performer against Chelsea at the weekend.
With Thiago potentially operating as the main progressive passer in a 4-2-3-1 system, it could allow Fabinho to take up more of his defensive responsibilities alongside the Spaniard which if Sunday’s performance is anything to go by can only be a good thing for Liverpool.
Liverpool’s irreplaceable skipper had an outstanding 2019/20 campaign after picking up the Football Writers Association Player of the Year award en route to the club’s Premier League title triumph last season.
He clocked up 30 PL appearances last term scoring four goals while providing five assists in total while helping the club achieve a record points total of 99.
However, it was concerning that Henderson missed the final four fixtures of the season due to a knee injury which in effect saw a huge drop off in performance levels for the Liverpool team.
His injury woes have seemingly continued into this season after Henderson came off at half-time with a thigh problem.
Liverpool’s acquisition of Thiago means that Klopp has the option of effectively rotating Henderson to preserve fitness levels while the former Barcelona maestro’s ability to dictate the tempo of possession will ease the workload for his teammates.
Adding another midfield option not only reduces the risk of injury in a key position which is provenly the most physically demanding area of the squad, but increases competition for places, which eliminates any possibility of complacency kicking in.
Thiago grants Klopp greater flexibility in terms of team selection and squad management and allows Henderson to be the best possible version of himself.
This is particularly important for Henderson who has been the standard bearer of midfield over the previous 12 months and can thrive alongside a player who can make the tempo of any match bend to his will at any given time.
Thiago’s involvement under Klopp could be particularly encouraging for Takumi Minamino as the Spaniard particularly thrives in a 4-2-3-1 system which could see Liverpool integrate the Japan international into the starting XI over a more sustained period this season.
Liverpool with Thiago in the team makes the Reds much more unpredictable and also ensures more attacking build-ups are innovated from midfield.
Last season, Liverpool were heavily reliant on their full-backs to provide an injection of quality in their attacking play and with the addition of Thiago it enables Klopp to make Liverpool much more unpredictable both tactically and when in possession as he ensures the Reds have a different change in tempo in the way that they play as well as an alternate range of passing.
Now that we have one of the best deep lying midfielders in the world we could get the best out of the squad by deploying him in a deeper role. This will free up the likes of Minamino, who similarly to Thomas Muller at Bayern, can take up more responsibility in attack.
The final piece of the puzzle. Naby Keita could be the greatest benificiary following Thiago’s addition to the team as Klopp could look to utilise two of the players together he previously dubbed as the best in the Bundesliga.
Klopp name-checked the imminent Reds No.6 when discussing his team’s decision to bring Naby Keita to the club from RB Leipzig in 2018.
“[Keita] is the best player in the league. I’d have preferred him this season!” said Klopp. “Last year together with Thiago Alcantara they were the best in the league.”
Keita is yet to thrive over a sustained period in Liverpool’s traditional 4-3-3 formation which encourages the midfield to take a more workman like approach rather get involved in attack.
Altertering to a 4-2-3-1 system will put a greater onus on ball retention and would free up Keita to link up with the front-three more frequently as Thiago and Fabinho would provide a bedrock of security which would get the best out of the Guinean talisman’s attacking qualities.
- Ki-Jana Hoever is Liverpool’s financial success story of the summer
- Diogo Jota is Klopp’s big selection selection decision v Lincoln
- Fabinho vindicates Klopp’s transfer stance following Chelsea masterclass
- Why were Liverpool able to sign Diogo Jota and not Timo Werner?
- Jose Enrique names the two midfielders Klopp should start alongside Thiago at Liverpool
- Report: Liverpool’s Taiwo Awoniyi turns down move to Greek side PAOK
- Liverpool agree personal terms with Diogo Jota, says Fabrizio Romano
- Why Liverpool’s reported Diogo Jota signing makes perfect sense
- Xabi Alonso reacts to Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara
- Report: Liverpool close to a deal for Wolves forward Diogo Jota
- Photo: Thiago Alcantara wearing Liverpool kit, squad number confirmed
- Report: Liverpool defender Ki-Jana Hoever set for £10 million move to Wolves
- Thiago transfer price keeps Liverpool’s door open for more transfers
- Thiago deal ensures Liverpool have two of the Bundesliga’s best