Will Thiago Alcântara fit in at Liverpool?

Thiago’s links to Liverpool are unending. There is an undeniable attraction between the club and the Spaniard. Fabrizio Romano provided the most recent transfer update. The reliable journalist said that there has been contact between Liverpool and Thiago.

Although Liverpool fans from across the world are excited, the overall sentiment is that of confusion. His age, style of play, and the fee he commands is everything Liverpool are generally uncomfortable with.

Will Thiago Alcântara fit in at Liverpool?

To understand whether Thiago would truly fit in at the club, it is important to look at the following factors.

Age and Injury Record

Thiago turns 30 next year and is rather injury-prone. In his 7 seasons in the Bundesliga, he has missed 74 games only because of injury and illness. This compounds to an average of 10.4 games per season, in the Bundesliga alone.

When compared to Liverpool’s midfielders, it becomes harder to view his injury record in a good light. When the injury record of Liverpool’s current central midfielders was looked into, the data revealed:

  1. Jordan Henderson: Missed 48 games in the last 7 seasons of the Premier League, an average of 6.9 games a season. (Age:30)
  2. Georginio Wijnaldum: Missed 8 games in the last 5 seasons of the Premier League, an average of 1.6 games a season. (Age:30)
  3. James Milner: Missed 31 games in the last 7 seasons of the Premier League, an average of 4.4 games a season. (Age:34)
  4. Fabinho: Missed 21 games in the last 7 seasons of top division football (Premier League & Ligue 1), an average of 3 games a season. (Age:26)
  5. Naby Keita: Missed 27 games in the last 6 seasons of top division football (Premier League, Bundesliga, and Austrian Bundesliga), an average of 4.5 games a season. (Age:25)

Through this data, we can infer that Thiago is more injury-prone than any of Liverpool’s current central midfielders.

Style of Play

Thiago, like many Spanish midfielders, is an incredible technician. His first touch is impeccable, and he twists and turns like it’s nothing. He is accustomed to being dominant in possession, giving him ample time to make a forward move.

The Premier League will not allow him to ponder on his options. However, given Thiago’s world-class ability, this wouldn’t be his biggest worry. Players like Dani Ceballos and Giovani Lo Celso have more or less adapted to English football, so it shouldn’t be too hard for Thiago.

The primary cause for concern stems from Jurgen Klopp’s tactical layout. The German expects tireless running from his midfielders. Liverpool’s major attacking threat is from the wings. This often leaves their fullbacks exposed, hence, the midfield 3 have to fill that void.

Playing Thiago in a role that limits the creative side to his game could backfire for Liverpool. If Klopp wants to fit him into the starting 11, it would require tactical adjustments. With Thiago in the side, Liverpool would have to switch from their title-winning 4-3-3. This would curtail the attacking instincts of their fullbacks.

Hindrance of Naby Keita and Curtis Jones’ development

A closer look into Liverpool’s squad reveals that the most similar players to Thiago are Naby Keita and Curtis Jones. Had Adam Lallana not joined Brighton last month, he would have been in the same bracket of players.

Naby Keita is a player who has shown glimpses of brilliance but never been consistent enough for the Reds. However, in the months of June and July, the Guinean was in spectacular form.

Here are some statistics to prove the same:

Naby Keita in the months of May and June:

• 9 appearances • 5 starts • 2 assists • 1 goal • 90% passing • 7 chances created • 70% tackle success rate (14/20) • 4 interceptions • 100% dribble success rate (12/12)

If he can carry this sublime run of form into next season, he will eventually grow into his role in the side. Liverpool fans often complain about the lack of creativity from midfield, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Naby Keita will put an end to those complaints.

To complement Naby Keita, Liverpool will rely on Curtis Jones. Jones is slowly but surely making a name for himself in the first team. The 20-year-old has made 6 appearances in the Premier League and was the club’s star in their domestic cup runs.

Thiago’s introduction to this side would mean lesser game time for Keita and Jones. Klopp would have to keep all his midfielders happy with sufficient game-time. This wouldn’t be a straightforward task, and failure in doing so could mean Keita and Jones leaving Liverpool.

The Fee

Thiago is valued by Bayern Munich at around 30 million Euros, and the club is unlikely to budge on that price. When you take into account the age factor, the transfer seems even more improbable.

All of Liverpool’s multi-million midfielder signings under Klopp were aged 25 or below when they signed. This includes the likes of Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, and Naby Keita.

Liverpool’s owners were unwilling to spend 55 million Euros on Timo Werner. Not only is Werner far younger than Thiago, but Liverpool arguably short of a backup option for their front three.

The Verdict

Irrespective of how impressive Thiago has been for Bayern Munich over the past couple of years, a move to Liverpool just wouldn’t suit him. Liverpool are equipped with a midfield that can penetrate offensively, and Thiago’s addition would simply be a waste of resources.

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