Liverpool has finally sealed the much-awaited Thiago Alcantara for a 25 million Euros, on a 20 million upfront and 5 million add ons. As the Red fans are in frenzy, we have tried to analyze how Thiago will be able to fit into Klopp’s Liverpool side and what does he brings into the already settled Liverpool squad.
In his debut game against Chelsea away, Thiago paraded around the Stamford Bridge pitch, dictating the play from the midfield as though he had been playing in the league for the last ten years. Besides looking good and making an instant impact with his passing and awareness, he also instantly changed the way Liverpool played. These stats from OptaJoe clearly reflect his in-game performance after coming on as a half time substitute for club captain Jordan Henderson.
Positional Analysis: Where does Thiago fit in
Thiago is one of the best midfielders in the world, one of the reasons for that is his versatility and dynamism. He can play as a creative midfielder and can also make his presence felt on the Deep lying playmaker role. He can fit right into Klopp’s favorite 4-3-3 formation, he might settle in the role of the creative central midfielder on the right side of the pitch. In that case, we might see a lot from the Salah, Trent, and Thiago trio.
That is indeed mouth-watering. On one hand, this means Salah will link up with Thiago and will be provided by some quality passes but on the other hand, it’s consequence will be Trent will have to curb his attacking nature a bit with Thiago instinctively more attacking Henderson. But with Thiago attacking transition of Liverpool will only get better. So 4-3-3 is a viable option.
We might see Klopp see into his once-favorite formation of 4-2-3-1, he used extensively in his Dortmund days. In this formation, Thiago might slot well into the role of Deep Lying Playmaker alongside defensive midfielder Fabinho to form the double pivot. In that case, Salah and Mane act as the Wide players while Minamino may come into the team as the Attacking midfielder. In this case, as much as the formation is balanced a lot of players will have to tweak their playing style a bit. But this formation might see Liverpool returning to gegenpressing that has been downplayed a bit last few years. But at the same time, Thiago can provide the forwards with the chances as well as control the pace of the game. Making 4-2-3-1 another viable formation to accommodate Thiago.
What does Thiago bring to the Liverpool squad
1. Creativity from the Middle
Liverpool has been pretty much relied on their dynamic full-back duo of Robertson and Trent for providing creativity. But lately, teams are slowly are picking on that, and crowding the flanks to neutralize the danger from the flanks resulting in absence of creativity from the Reds. Liverpool midfield consists of some of the best midfielders in terms of their work rate and pressing, but creating chances has not been their strongest forte. Thiago strengthens the team’s creativity from the center of the pitch.
In this picture we see Thiago passing the ball to Lewandoski in a pin perfect manner, inside a crowded box which will eventually lead-in goal. This is the impact he has on the game.
He has a pass completion rate of 83.6% which is good given the date he has a long pass completion rate of 85.3% which is excellent and talks volume about his passing range, in case of playing against teams with the low block he can play the ball over the defense and try to catch the run of a Liverpool player. Again he has a medium pass completion rate of 93.5% which indicates his ability to play line-breaking passes that can help the team in breaking the opponent’s defense.
2. Work rate: Thiago’s Tenacity to Cope with High Intensity Playing Style
One question that arises in the mind of all, will Thiago be able to endure the high-intensity game playing style of Liverpool despite his injury-prone past. The answer is still Yes. In Liverpool, the system of rotation of players will give him enough rest and will result in less stress on him.
In this picture we see him dropping deep and starting the transition from the back, this is an indication of his workload which he takes per game.
On the other hand, he has done a combined total of 77 tackles and interceptions that is a prove of his defensive work rate, which makes him an ideal candidate in Klopp’s system. Again his pressing play has significantly improved in the last two years. This will make him a versatile guy and can make Klopp introduce him into the first 11 within weeks which is not a norm under Klopp’s regime at Liverpool.
His experience makes him another valuable asset, as he knows how to deal with extreme pressure, his press resistance nature will open another dimension in Liverpool’s midfield as he can act as the point of transition in Liverpool’s midfield.
3. Control of the Game: Dictating the Pace of the Match
With experience on his side along with technical prowess, he can dictate the pace of the game from the center according to the situation. Except for Milner, Liverpool lacks a player who can dictate the pace of the game, Klopp can use this ability of Thiago to enforce the desired pace on the match.
With excellent, GCA ratings he can any time increase the tempo of the game that may lead to shots or chances. With him, Klopp adds a natural midfielder who can lead the midfield and can guide the young players like Curtis Jones.
Liverpool’s Thiago deal may prove to be successful as the team lay their hands on one of the best midfielders in the world. It is now to be seen if Thiago can remain injury-free and continue his form from last season where he won the treble with Bayern. Now only time can tell how much Liverpool profited from this deal, as soon as now we can only tell Liverpool has a world-class player in their midfield in form of Thiago Alcantara.
Can Thiago be the final key in Liverpool’s Midfield Puzzle? Please let us know in the comment section below.