Liverpool will look for Thiago to be at his world-class best as they deal with injuries. Roberto Firmino has an injury that could keep him out for some time.
The Athletic claims that Roberto Firmino could be out until mid-December with his hamstring injury. That’s an issue that seriously hurts Liverpool going forward.
Of course, it hurts them defensively, too. Firmino’s pressing is elite and the Reds would much rather have him there leading things.
But Diogo Jota, his probable replacement, is also an elite presser – he might even be slightly better than the Brazilian. What Jota can’t do, however, is link play particularly well as a False 9.
Firmino drops back into space, receiving the ball from midfield and moving Liverpool up the field. Jota doesn’t do that nearly as well and there’s a disconnect when he’s leading the line.
He wants to play off the shoulder of the defender, trying to get on the end of chances to score goals. Liverpool, then, need to get the ball forward in a different way.
When Liverpool aren’t looking to Firmino, they can also move the ball forward and create opportunities from the right. As we wrote here, the trio of Mohamed Salah, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are wonderful with the way they swap positions.
But that’s also quite one-dimensional. West Ham United shut that plan down very well, leaving Liverpool struggling to create.
And that’s where Thiago comes in. Liverpool usually lean heavily into Firmino because their midfielders aren’t traditionally creative.
Jurgen Klopp instead rolls with a very functional midfield that isn’t particularly special at progressing the ball. Thiago, however, is one of the world’s very best at it.
His stats this season are incredible in limited minutes and we expect him to explode into life. Especially as Liverpool lean into his passing game to make up for Firmino’s absence.
Jota doesn’t need to drop deep to receive the ball – Thiago will find him. Liverpool won’t need to create every on the flank – Thiago can operate in limited midfield space.
This is why Liverpool paid £20m for him. Thiago is a world-class specialist on the ball and his ability to get the team going is what makes him special. Providing he stays fit, the Reds will need the Spaniard over the next month.