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Why Thiago Alcantara has been the biggest victim of Liverpool's 2020/21 season

September 18 was regarded as a historic day for Liverpool Football Club. It represented a changing of the guard and ensured Jurgen Klopp was finally able to make the club a viable destination for the world’s best players. The signing of Thiago Alcantara was considered one of the biggest signings in the club’s illustrious 128-year history.

However, Liverpool’s marquee summer signing has so far failed to have had the effect that was initially expected upon his £20 million [BBC] arrival from Bayern Munich.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

A cruel inauguration

This is by no means a criticism of Thiago himself, as the Liverpool No.6 has arguably suffered greater than any other player following a number of mitigating circumstances that have come to fruition since he was announced as a Reds player nearly five months ago.

Indeed, this is a big statement considering the crippling season-ending injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, but the aura that comes with Thiago’s name has so far had a damming effect on his Liverpool tenure.

What we mean by this, is that the Spanish international has suffered as a result of the expectation that has come with his reputation as one of world football’s most renowned serial winners.

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Remarkably, Thiago has been a domestic league champion in nine of his previous 10 seasons at elite level football. Also, his final game as a Bayern player, coincidently, was the Champions League final victory against PSG back in August.

And as a result, his decision to snub the reigning European champions for the chance to work with Klopp was a huge compliment to Liverpool’s growing stature as one of world football’s leading forces again.

He ultimately became the poster boy that represented the evolvement that Klopp and his Liverpool squad were set to endure following their Premier League and Champions League success.

Never before had the Reds broke the bank to sign a player in the latter stages of his career, but in the case of Thiago, exceptions were unsurprisingly made.

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Setback after setback

Since his summer move was sanctioned, however, everything has gone against Thiago for him to find his feet as his latest club side following previous spells with Barcelona and Bayern.

First, there was the season-ending injury to arguably Liverpool’s best player, Virgil van Dijk during the 2-2 draw against Everton on October 17.

Then, in the same match, Thiago himself fell victim to a knee injury that would rule him out for the best part of two months.

So, Liverpool and Klopp were dealt the huge setback of losing both their defensive lynchpin and marque signing in the space of 90 minutes.

Thiago would go on to miss 16 matches for the Reds before making return his return against Newcastle on December 30.

In-between that period, Liverpool also lost Joe Gomez to injury which effectively left Klopp reliant on the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to cover in defence.

This, as has been made obvious in recent weeks, has had a damming effect on the team with Klopp forced to constantly forced to rotate and tweak the dynamic of his team.

This has specifically hindered Thiago’s influence in particular, as he is currently playing for a team who appear unsettled and lacking a game-plan.

He is still yet to play alongside what is considered Klopp’s best starting XI. It’s no wonder, then, that Liverpool’s results have suffered, too, given Klopp’s blueprints for the season effectively went out the window on game-week five.

A cause for optimism still

Still, there is every hope that Thiago can still find his feet and Klopp will uncover a way to get the best out of his historic summer acquisition.

It has been far from the ideal start Thiago would have hoped for, and he, too, looks set to miss out on a league title for the first time in seven years.

Thiago, then, ultimately has suffered more than any other player this season as he alone is expected to inspire Liverpool out of this rut.

Until the dynamic of Klopp’s team is restored, the reality is that we shouldn’t place any unrealistic expectations on Thiago’s shoulders.

He functions best when the team is at full-capacity, a prospect that has yet been made available to him in the few months he has been on Merseyside.

2020/21 has been cruel on the Reds, to say the least. But for Thiago, there is an added sympathy given what he sacrificed to become a Liverpool player.

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