By Richard Morgan
Football journalist – @Richiereds1976
German football expert Raphael Honigstein joins Pete Graves and Dharmesh Sheth to discuss the latest major developments on the Transfer Talk podcast
Last Updated: 03/08/20 1:22pm
Thiago Alcantara could be the missing piece in Liverpool’s jigsaw were the Bayern Munich attacking midfielder to move to Anfield this summer, German football expert Raphael Honigstein told the Transfer Talk podcast.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have just won the Premier League in record-breaking time, with the German declaring himself “happy with my squad 100 per cent”, although that does not mean the champions will not be strengthening in the transfer window.
Jamie Carragher believes Klopp should use the summer to fine-tune his squad ahead of next season, when there is sure to be a greater title challenge from the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Alcantara’s 2019-20 stats in all comps
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“Liverpool’s squad is fine in most areas,” said the former Liverpool defender. “But l think there’s a couple of glaring areas where it should be better than it is.”
One such area that may need looking at is the addition of a technically accomplished playmaker who is not only capable of producing long-range goals, but can also help control and open up games with intricate passes and incisive runs.
The type of player who can be decisive in the big matches, which are invariably tight contests, and who the Reds have not been able to call upon since Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona in January 2018.
Alcantara, whose father is Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho, certainly fits that bill and would add some flair to the champions’ workmanlike midfield were he to join the club.
And Bayern are already bracing themselves for Liverpool to make a move for the 29-year-old, according to Honigstein.
“Bayern had an offer of a contract extension on the table,” he told the Transfer Talk podcast. “They thought they’d agreed, but he’s changed his mind. The club assumed that he must already have a deal in place with someone else, but that side are yet to reveal their hand.
“There’s been no firm offer yet from anyone, but Bayern are bracing themselves for Liverpool because that’s the rumour in the dressing room. But we haven’t seen any offer yet and Liverpool have distanced themselves from making a move for Thiago. That could just be part of their strategy, but Bayern are more or less resigned to him leaving.
“I think that would be a big blow for them as he’s more or less been running games for them and is an absolute key player in my mind. It’ll be very difficult for Bayern to find a player who is like Thiago, who’s so unique in his technical ability. It’s a blow for Bayern and something that they didn’t expect.”
However, if the Spain international does move to Merseyside next season, then the balance of Liverpool’s three-man midfield will be altered, warns Honigstein.
“In Germany they are saying that if Liverpool buy Thiago, they’ll win every game next year!” he said.
“He’s just been so good. If there’s one player they’re missing in that midfield it’s that technical player. More of a creator and a dribbler, somebody who scores spectacular goals and can find a pass.
“It’s not a player that Liverpool have accommodated in recent years and it would change the dynamic of their midfield if you find space for him.”
In Germany they are saying that if Liverpool buy Thiago, they’ll win every game next year!
Raphael Honigstein speaking on the Transfer Talk podcast
A further attraction to signing Alcantara is with his Bayern contract expiring next year, the player will be available for a knocked-down fee of just £25m this summer.
And in these uncertain financial times, Honigstein thinks that would represent a brilliant bit of business for a midfielder who has contributed 31 goals and 37 assists in 231 games since swapping Barcelona for Bavaria in 2013.
“But in terms of real quality, technique and unique skills any club in the world should be in for him,” he added.
“If Liverpool get him in the summer when the traditional powerhouses on the continent can’t do it, the deal would be an absolute steal for the kind of money Bayern are talking about – £25m.
“He’s only got a year left on his contract, but for a player who’s going to be at his peak for another two or three years, that is a bargain in my book. Whoever gets him is getting an absolute diamond.”
Analysis by Sky Sports News’ Liverpool reporter Vinny O’Connor:
“They have to improve because if you look at the likes of Chelsea at the moment, Man City are going to improve, Man Utd have had a run that has taken them into the Champions League once again.
“So Liverpool know they have to be better next season and if they are not going to do so much in the transfer market, then the Liverpool squad know they will have to raise their levels once again.
“Klopp has said they are not necessarily going to do too much business in the transfer window, although there could be the odd addition. But then there are the other improvements to the players they have already got. We saw with Naby Keita’s performance, if you can get those kind of performances out of him consistently, that is an improvement Liverpool could make.
“And Klopp talked to us after the game about Curtis Jones and he could not help let it slip that he is ready now, they are very excited about what he can produce for Liverpool FC. Adam Lallana is leaving a space and Jones can more than fill that and become an influential member of that squad as there is a lot of excitement at what he can achieve in a red shirt. And he is taking on the No 17 shirt next season, which of course in the early years was Steven Gerrard’s.”
Analysis by Sky Sports’ Richard Morgan:
“It appears as though Thiago Alcantara’s time in Germany is at an end after Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Bild: ‘Alcantara wants to leave. It looks like he may want to do something new at the end of his career.’
“What that new adventure will be is still to be decided, but the Spain international will not be short of suitors after seven trophy-laden years at the Allianz Arena and a knocked-down transfer fee with his Bayern contract expiring next year.
“It was Man City boss Pep Guardiola who took the Barcelona youth product with him when swapping Catalonia for Bavaria in 2013, shortly after his hat-trick saw Spain crowned European U21 champions, so do not rule out the pair being reunited at the Etihad next season.
“Meanwhile, Liverpool are also reportedly interested in signing the 29-year-old in order to add some flair to the champions’ hard-working midfield.”
The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.
A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports‘ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.