EPL

Thiago doesn't play the Liverpool way – Former Red Hamann urges caution

By Sports Desk January 19, 2021

Thiago Alcantara does not play the "Liverpool way" and they should be cautious about how influential he becomes, according to former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann.

Liverpool signed Thiago in September in a deal that is not expected to cost them more than £25million even when add-ons are factored in.

It was seen as a real coup for the club such were the talents he had displayed during his time at Bayern, with many of the opinion he was the missing piece of the puzzle for Jurgen Klopp's Reds as they had been lacking the sort of midfielder capable of dictating the team's tempo.

Injury has restricted him to just five Premier League appearances since the move, the latest of which was in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Manchester United.

In that match Thiago showed flashes of his class, with his dribbling abilities standing out several times, while he also had more touches (122), attempted passes (96) and completed passes (83) than anyone else on the pitch.

But Hamann is not convinced Thiago is the sort of player Liverpool need in their midfield, suggesting the Spaniard likes to take control and slow the play down whereas the Reds have been at their best in recent years when utilising a quick tempo established by hardworking players rather than technical playmakers.

"Liverpool in the past have had hard-working midfielders, they were not as skilful as Thiago, but they gave the ball to [Sadio] Mane and [Mohamed] Salah early," Hamann explained to talkSPORT.

"If you get the ball early on the wing, and these guys can run at players they are very hard to stop.

"I just feel with Thiago, everyone was raving about him coming to Liverpool – he's hardly played. He came on against Chelsea and had the most passes in the second half, against a Chelsea team that was down to 10 men.

"He came on against Newcastle in the last 25 minutes, Newcastle were dead on their feet, everyone was raving about how good he is.

"I can tell you, he's a good player, a skilful player. But there was never a time in Munich where people said, 'oh he's the first on the team sheet'. So, I'd be very cautious when it comes to Thiago.

"And the other thing is, as other people alluded to earlier, he plays a different style of football. He likes to be in possession.

"Liverpool were always good when they weren't in possession, won it and played quickly forward.

"He's not that type of player, so it will be very interesting when he does play more often now how it's going to change the dynamics of the team."

Although Thiago looked bright, Liverpool's front three – particularly Mane and Salah – were quiet against United, with neither able to consistently get the better of the visitors' full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Luke Shaw, lending credence to Hamann's concerns.

However, Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino all produced two key passes each and Thiago did prove rather effective without the ball, despite Hamann's claims to the contrary.

His three tackles were matched by only Georginio Wijnaldum among Liverpool players, while his six interceptions was the most of anyone on the pitch.

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