With both the Premier League and Champions League shortly on the horizon, Liverpool are vastly approaching a critical period of the season.
If we are going to be successful in both competitions, then there are two players we will need to strike up an instant combination.
Thiago Alcantara already fits into the key player category. The Champions League-winning midfielder is the only player Liverpool have who can make the tempo of any match effortlessly bend to his will.
If he can remain fit and replicate the same sustained brilliance he did at Bayern last season; then we could see the best brought out of Naby Keita.
Similarly to that of Thomas Muller at Bayern, Keita is Liverpool’s most important midfielder from an attacking sense. His ability to link with the front three and press from the front is unparalleled amongst Jurgen Klopp’s array of midfield options.
Against Arsenal last month, the brilliance of Keita came to the fore with the player enjoying his richest reign of form since joining the Reds back in 2018.
According to WhoScored, he made two shots, enjoyed a pass success rate of 97 per cent and contributed one key pass.
One criticism of Keita’s game is that he needs to add more goals and assists from a statistical sense yet the future involvement of Thiago is likely to benefit that particular notion directly.
Similarly to Bayern, Liverpool tend to boast a high defensive line to press aggressively from the front and quickly regain possession once lost. Without Thiago against Aston Villa, Liverpool were overrun in midfield which in effect made the defensive quartet worryingly vulnerable as it was far to easy for the opposition to break between the lines.
This also left Keita isolated when on the ball and a lack of a stronghold in midfield meant that he was unable to affect the game similarly to how he did against both Chelsea and Arsenal.
The return of Thiago will undoubtedly benefit Keita as it could see Liverpool shift to a 4-2-3-1 system that will allow the latter more freedom to operate closer to the club’s attackers which could see a greater improvement in terms of goals and assists.
The characters of both players are undoubtedly likely to complement each other. Thiago can effortlessly dictate the flow of the game from midfield while Keita can inject an aggressive approach off the ball further up the field to retrieve possession for his team continuously. Together they will make Liverpool better.
After all, the addition of Thiago now means Liverpool possess two players Klopp previously deemed as the best in the Bundesliga.
“[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.”
More importantly, Liverpool have depth too, which will make the Reds much more unpredictable from a tactical sense. Fabinho and Jordan Henderson can both effortlessly partner Thiago while Georginio Wijnaldum can also offer the team an alternative approach in midfield.
There should be room for everybody to play their part, and Thiago and Keita are two players who Liverpool will be counting on, considering they are the club’s most recent midfield additions.
Together they have a chance to strike up an exciting partnership, and the prospect of them blossoming together could be the perfect evolution to Klopp’s previous preferred midfield triumvirate.