Following on from a report by The Independent, a case has been made for Jurgen Klopp to start Curtis Jones ahead of Thiago Alcantara during Liverpool’s clash against Manchester City on Sunday.
Thiago, 29, has started seven consecutive matches for Liverpool in recent weeks, but there have been doubts over whether or not the Spaniard’s qualities suit Klopp’s style of play.
Former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamman was particularly vocal about this particular notion last month.
And more recently, Tony Evans of The Independent has come to the conclusion that Liverpool could benefit from taking Thiago out of the midfield equation when Pep Guardiola comes to town this weekend.
Looking ahead to the titanic bout between the two teams that have dominated English football in recent years, he said: “There is no doubting Thiago’s ability – he is a world-class player – but too often he seems to be playing a different game to his teammates.
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“An understanding should develop – such a changeable midfield has not helped anyone – but the 29-year-old so far looks like he would suit Guardiola’s methods at City rather than Klopp’s at Anfield.
“The other question that hangs over Thiago is that he is still getting used to the pace of the game in England.
“He picked up two yellow cards last month and is late to the tackle too often for comfort.
“It is likely just a matter of time before he develops a better connection with his teammates, but he needs to get sharper in challenges. Because of this, Jones may be a better option against City.”
What RTK has to say – Should Thiago start against Manchester City?
Getting the balance in midfield right has remained a challenge for Klopp ever since Fabinho was forced to act as a make-shift centre-back.
Jordan Henderson, too, has been sacrificed from his preferred position to provide cover in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
This has put a greater onus on Thiago to provide the spark in midfield for Liverpool, and so far, the former Bayern Munich man has come up short.
This is by no means any fault of Thiago rather the consequences of a disrupted balance within the team. Liverpool were without eight first-team regulars during the 1-0 defeat at Brighton, after all.
No wonder Liverpool are struggling, then. It is seriously disruptive to play two members of a title-winning triumvirate out of position.
And as a result, Thiago has been made to suffer. It’s unfair to expect him alone to completely galvanise a midfield that is without two of its leading generals. He was brought in to bring an added spark to Klopp’s midfield, not to completely innovate one himself.
Still, Evans does make a strong case. Liverpool’s success against Guardiola in the past, after all, has been built on disrupting City’s dominance in possession and retrieving the ball back in key areas of the pitch.
Whether or not Klopp himself chooses to act on this by sacrificing Thiago, however, still remains to be seen.