Potential Liverpool targets won’t like the look of Thiago in the Reds’ midfield. The Spaniard cuts a superstar figure.
Gini Wijnaldum leaves Liverpool this summer after five years with the club. Five very successful years, too. The Dutchman played key roles in Champions League and Premier League successes as part of the Reds’ first-choice midfield.
He was a dominant figure last season, too. In fact, Liverpool owe him a debt of gratitude simply by staying fit.
Wijnaldum was the only midfielder to come through the season unscathed, nor did he suffer serious drop in form. He was Liverpool’s most reliable, consistent midfielder by some distance.
Wijnaldum will need replacing, then. Liverpool surely can’t expect to just let him go and carry on as normal – he leaves a gap in the squad that wasn’t there last season.
But it’s easy to look at his number of starts over the last few seasons and come to the conclusion that Liverpool need a first-choice player. That isn’t the case, however, and it could make life difficult.
Thiago in midfield
Liverpool actually signed Wijnaldum’s replacement last summer. Thiago arrived from Bayern Munich for around £20m and, in our minds, was supposed to take the Dutchman’s spot.
The first-choice midfield should have been Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago. That’s how Jurgen Klopp set up his side to face Everton at Goodison Park on October 17th.
As it would turn out, that was the only game of the season were Klopp had all of his first-choice options available. Everything was thrown upside down after that.
Thiago and Virgil van Dijk both picked up long-term injuries. The Spaniard returned before the end of the year but Van Dijk still hasn’t made it back.
Fabinho and Henderson both played centre-back by the time Thiago was in the side again. The captain then picked up a season-ending injury of his own in February, meaning the trio never played in midfield together more than once.
But next season? That’s the first-choice midfield. And that could worry potential signings.
Again, though, there’s competition.
All three players are looking to make a big step up and all three have choices. Is Liverpool the right choice?
There’s far from any guarantee that you’d start with regularity and it’s easy for all three of those players to look at Thiago as the real plan there. You’re not replacing Wijnaldum – Thiago is.
We can’t help but worry that it may sway certain players away from Liverpool. Others could offer them starting roles on big wages. The Reds might give you the latter but they’d have to wait for the former.
Some players may like the challenge, some may simply want to be at Liverpool or work under Klopp. But it is a potential spanner in the works as the Reds search for the perfect signing.