Recent speculation over the possibility of Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara joining Liverpool has come as quite a surprise to many supporters.
A number of rumours have circulated about a possible move for the midfielder, including beIN Sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri, who reported the 29-year-old has agreed personal terms with Liverpool on Saturday.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Thiago does indeed make the move to Anfield, the prospect of him joining the Reds proves an interesting thought process.
The Bayern Munich midfielder has taken influence from both Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola during his playing days but it was the latter who paid one of the highest accolades a player could ever receive upon signing him for the German champions in 2013.
“I spoke to the club and told them about my concept and told them why I want Thiago,” said Guardiola.
“He is the only player that I want. It will be him or no one.”
Given everything Guardiola has achieved in football, that type of praise doesn’t come without justification. Thiago is the product of a highly-skilled Barcelona academy at La Masia with incredible ball-playing abilities in midfield.
As one of the most talented midfielders of his generation, it would be understandable for Liverpool supporters to get excited about him possibly coming to Anfield. Yet the more cautious fans would note that he’s almost past his physical peak and has endured recurring injury issues.
From a tactical perspective, Thiago’s arrival would provide a whole host of interesting questions given that he isn’t necessarily the type of midfielder associated with Jurgen Klopp’s machine-like midfield shape.
The trio of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum has been the most trusted combination over the last couple of seasons.
With impressive pressing numbers and ball retention between the three, they provide a platform for the full-backs to advance further forward and allow Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino freedom in the final third.
But where would Thiago fit into all of that?
At 5ft9, Thiago doesn’t possess the physical presence of Fabinho or Henderson and, equally, it would be difficult to see him perform a role similar to Wijnaldum given the added qualities he has in possession.
However, signing the 29-year-old could lead to a slight evolution of Liverpool’s midfield. Since it became apparent Liverpool were going to win the Premier League, much has been said about remaining unpredictable and strengthening while remaining at the very top.
For the majority of his career, Thiago has functioned as a deeper-lying playmaker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, alongside a more defensively-minded partner. This season, for example, has seen him work alongside Joshua Kimmich, who has converted from a right-back into a defensive midfielder.
According to Statsbomb, via FBref, Thiago is the…