Thiago Alcantara is one of the most talented individuals Spanish football has produced for some time. Forged in La Masia, the La Roja international born to Brazilian parents broke through under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona before following him to Bayern Munich. He joined Liverpool this past summer.
His adaption to English football has been difficult. Injury has hampered his ability to find regularity, and Liverpool collectively have struggled to hit the heights of the past few seasons. Dietmar Hamann, a former Liverpool player, claimed recently that Thiago’s presence makes Liverpool worse, that he slows down the team.
As explained in a report in Panenka, Thiago’s combination of Brazilian roots and a footballing education served alongside Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets has contributed to a versatile player as quick in the dribble as he is accurate in the pass. An attacking force early in his career, Carlo Ancelotti turned him into a pivot at Bayern, a position he’s made his own.
Pep Lijnders, Jurgen Klopp‘s assistant at Anfield, was clear in why they pursued Thiago. “We are very happy that Thiago is with us,” he said. “This team needs a player like him, because we will evolve. Rivals adapt, they try to destroy our plans and we have to be unpredictable.
“The unpredictability means that from every position we can play one last pass and speed up the game as much as we can. Thiago does it, he’s a great signing for us. We have not bought a problem that needs to fit in. We have bought a solution.”
Lijnders sees Thiago as someone capable of continuing in the essence of the team but in closed contexts, offering a means of solving the low block with which Liverpool have been confronted with so often this season. Thiago has the creativity and audacity to break through such stolid defences.
Thiago has also proven a willingness to take leave of his comfort zone to push himself to improve, reinventing himself throughout his career. “I feel better at 29 than at 24, and I hope to be better at 34 than at 29,” he said. For the sake of Liverpool, and La Roja, it would be great if he is.