Liverpool won’t want Thiago to fit in seamlessly, despite recent criticism. In fact, that might be the last thing they want.
Two former Liverpool stars had some interesting comments on Thiago after the Reds drew with Manchester United.
First, there was John Barnes talking to talkSPORT. He said that the way Thiago’s play slowed things down ‘didn’t necessarily help’ Liverpool’s forwards.
He said ‘it’s not working’ and that Thiago isn’t a great fit right now.
Then Didi Hamann followed suit on Tuesday. Also talking to talkSPORT, the German said he was concerned about Thiago’s fit, too.
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He believes the Spaniard isn’t the kind of player Liverpool have had success with. In fact, Thiago will change the dynamic of the team – not necessarily a good thing.
Now, we don’t actually disagree with the fundamental ideas here. Where we do disagree, though, is the idea that it’s negative.
Liverpool almost certainly don’t want Thiago to be a pure fit.
Thiago absolutely is a possession player who slows play down. He’s at his best with the team pushed up high and he can work passes between the lines or spread play to the wings.
Liverpool didn’t really have a player like that – but they came up against that situation all the time. The worry, then, is that without a specialist, teams would figure out a way to control them.
We saw it a few teams this season without Thiago, in fact. West Brom pulled it off, Tottenham Hotspur nearly did. Teams who were willing to give up the ball and not allow Liverpool to play with pace.
Liverpool had over 78 per cent possession against West Brom without Thiago. That’s not a game where playing with pace in behind will work – the space isn’t there, quite deliberately.
Thiago comes in as someone who can unlock teams like that. That’s what Liverpool paid the £20m for.
It’s a transfer that makes absolutely no sense, otherwise. Why would you buy a 29-year-old if you wanted to change his game?
So no, Thiago isn’t a perfect fit but while he may need to adapt slightly to the Liverpool forwards, the real key will be Liverpool adapting to him.