The Spain international arrived on Merseyside 12 months ago this weekend and is now ready to take the Premier League by storm
Jurgen Klopp insists there is “much more to come” from Thiago Alcantara, as the Liverpool midfielder completes his first 12 months on Merseyside.
Thiago arrived at Anfield on September 18 last year, the Reds having agreed a deal worth £25 million ($34.5m) with Bayern Munich for the Spanish international.
And while his first year at the club has been mixed, mainly due to an injury sustained at Everton in his first Premier League start, Klopp believes we will soon see the 30-year-old’s full range of skills.
What did Klopp say about Thiago?
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s game against Crystal Palace this weekend, Klopp told reporters: “The start was not perfect. He got Covid, got injured early which of course makes things much more difficult. But he showed what kind of player he will be for us. There is much more to come of course.
“It has been a year, but if you want it is only half a year because of all the things which happened. Coming to a new club, in the most difficult period in all our lives, he settled really well. His family is here, he loves it here, he was in the middle of the team very quickly. He’s a really good character, really good personality and obviously a world-class player. It is all fine!”
‘He’s like a world-class golfer!’
Discussing Thiago’s role in the Liverpool team, and the specific tactical instructions he is given, Klopp compared the former Barcelona man to a golfer.
He said: “He played more often at Munich in a double-six role, but for us it’s a complex position; you have to be offensive, you have to be defensive, you have to be between the lines, you can drop into the last line to receive the ball, but not always.
“But he is such a natural footballer it is not like we have to give him 15 or 16 different things to do in the game. I don’t ask him for constant runs beyond the last line. He is a playmaker, obviously, who can sometimes be a little deeper, but he must be there in the two ‘interesting’ lines of the opponent as well.
“He has great vision and can change things with his passing. In a closed area with his passing he is really good, and he can chip balls into each area like a golfer, actually. A good golfer. A world class golfer! He does that without even thinking.
“I love the way he plays. It’s a complex position to be the No.8 for us. We have different skill sets and we use different skill sets from time to time when we think a particular skill set makes more sense against a particular opponent.”
Liverpool team news
Klopp will be without striker Roberto Firmino for the visit of Palace, the Brazilian having yet to return to training following the hamstring injury suffered against Chelsea last month.
There are no fresh concerns, though the Reds boss hinted he would make changes again to his starting XI having rested the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah for the Champions League win over AC Milan on Wednesday.
“We spoke a lot about the schedule but this one is normal for us, three games a week,” he said. “We did these kind of things and thank God we came through, the boys did really well but we will have to make changes again, that is clear.”