Thiago Alcantara is finally back in Liverpool training. There isn’t a clear date on his full return which means the club do not need to rush into any decisions.
It’s the best Christmas gift Kopites could have hoped for and one we’ve been patiently waiting for some time.
In fact, Liverpool fans are yet to see Thiago with a ball at his feet since October 17, during the 2-2 draw with Everton at Goodison Park.
The Spaniard sustained a knee injury that afternoon following a horror challenge from Richarlison. It has limited Thiago to just 135 minutes of action.
His recent return to the first-team set-up at Kirkby indicates a return could imminent. There is every hope he could make his Anfield debut against West Brom on Sunday.
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If not, there are plenty of upcoming matches that are perfectly suited to the former Bayer Munich star’s talents.
The fact Thiago has made just one start since winning the Champions League in August indicates he’s a player you do not rush. He’ll need the appropriate time to get up to match fitness and to find his feet.
Instead, Liverpool’s immediate focus should be prepping him for 2021 – which means upcoming matches such as West Brom and Newcastle could be seen as too early.
The first match of the New Year is against Southampton – and it is perfect for a player like Thiago.
Under Ralph Hasenhüttl, you have a team who play with similar qualities to that of a Jurgen Klopp set-up.
The Southampton manager likes to adopt a 4-2-2-2 system that focusses on a high-press, and quick and smooth transitional play.
The team’s tactical versatility is also due to Hasenhüttl’s ambition to not focus on build-up play.
He prefers not to play possession-based football, instead of looking to play long, direct balls and get the ball up into the attacking third and further up the pitch as soon as possible, creating as many goalscoring opportunities as possible – similarly to Liverpool.
This is perfect for Thiago. His ability to dictate possession and allow the game to ebb and flow to his liking will add a sense of unpredictability to Liverpool’s game.
Big games require big players, and they don’t come much bigger than two-time Champions League winner Thiago.
This is a match that is screaming for an injection of quality from Liverpool’s summer signing.
It is undoubtedly the biggest match Thiago will have played in since Bayern Munich overcame Paris Saint Germain back in August.
Against your title rivals, the result is all that matters. Thiago’s tactical nous and technical brilliance makes him the perfect secret weapon for Klopp in such a high-stakes game.
Against Jose Mourinho, Thiago is the perfect option for Klopp given the Spanish international’s time against him with Barcelona.
As we saw earlier this month, Tottenham like to soak up pressure and exploit their opponents on the counter-attack.
This is something Klopp can counter-act perfectly through the usage of Thiago.
Utilising him in the hole alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum would be a deadly combination.
A team has tightly organised as Mourinho’s will require a passing specialist to find the appropriate gaps to break between the lines – Thiago is the best in the business in that particular regard.
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