Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara is arguably the club’s most significant addition of the Premier League era.
The key for the Reds was could they make such an acquisition work financially given all the uncertainty in the current economic climate.
Considering Liverpool were able to strike a deal for just £20 million in a payment structure that has been spread out over four years is a ridiculously good deal for the club when you consider the calibre of the player they have brought in.
He’s a serial winner and a player who has become more accustomed to winning at the highest level than any player in a Liverpool squad that has won both the Premier League and Champions League in the space of a year.
Thiago’s footballing CV itself is nothing shy of ridiculous. When you consider where he started in the ranks of Barcelona’s academy to then win some of Europe’s biggest trophies with Pep Guardiola before moving to Bayern Munich to enjoy seven years of unrivalled dominance tells a story in itself.
It’s no great surprise in the end then that Liverpool did break from their traditional business approach of avoiding players in that particular age bracket.
The last time the club paid any kind of fee for a player over the age of 26 was when Liverpool signed Ragnar Klavan back in 2016, who was very much a stopgap purchase.
It hasn’t been the Liverpool way under FSG to spend £20-25 million for a 29-year-old, but with a player of the ilk of Thiago, the club had to make an exception. He is an absolute elite performer and it was staggering to see how quickly he asserted himself during the second half of the Reds’ 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
A signing like no other
Thiago’s statistical output was nothing shy of extraordinary. The 75 passes he completed in the second half were the most by any player over the course of 45 minutes since such Premier League data was recorded and more than any Chelsea player managed over entire 90 minutes.
It 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.
What was perhaps most striking to Thiago’s performance on Sunday was his reluctance to play the easy pass and instead, look for the option that appeared hidden to all except the Spanish international.
He is so progressive in the way he plays 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 and take out three to four Chelsea players out of the game with 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.
There was a concern from supporters that after Project Restart in June, Liverpool’s standards had slipped. Opponents were able to sit back more and frustrate Klopp’s team more frequently than we had seen prior to lockdown.
Thiago’s addition has made 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 a different range of passing.
Liverpool are traditionally under Klopp very direct whereas the addition of Thiago represents the evolution of this team as it ensures the club possess a player who can make the tempo of the game bend to his will at any given moment.
A game changer
He’s completely different to anything Liverpool currently have which expands Klopp’s ability to utilise different systems to complement a number of player’s contrasting styles of play.
It’s also telling just how much Liverpool can still get out of Thiago given the player is the same age as Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.
It’s striking to believe that both players are the same age given that De Bruyne was an unknown prospect at Genk when Thiago became a Champions League winner for the first time with Barcelona in 2011.
Also, Thiago has proven more durable than the Belgium international over the past three seasons which indicates that there are no immediate worries that Thiago is only a short-term solution at Liverpool.
When you consider his diverse style of play and his ability to completely dictate the flow of a game, there is no reason that Thiago cannot be a mainstay in Liverpool’s team for the entirety of his four-year contract at Anfield and potentially even further beyond that.
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