Injury has prevented Thiago Alcantara from making more than one start for Liverpool this season, but the midfielder’s cameo versus Napoli should convince Jurgen Klopp to throw him in against Ajax.
After a season which contained more memories than most fans can dream of in a lifetime, Liverpool supporters are already wishing to forget about this campaign.
From the moment a limping Thiago Alcantara drudged off the pitch in a 2-2 draw Fulham on the opening day due to another injury, Reds fans realised that this term wasn’t going to be easy. Six games and only two wins later, the Spaniard is now ready to give Liverpool’s midfield a much-needed injection of quality after Jurgen Klopp ‘s failure to make up for his absence.
Back in training for a full week ahead of Ajax ‘s visit to Anfield on Tuesday, Thiago is raring to go and should be one of the first names on the team sheet. And that’s not because of his world-class reputation, far from it in fact.
The Reds’ last game was what Klopp has described as the worst performance of his seven-year tenure as Liverpool manager – but Thiago was a shining light. While only playing 28 minutes of their 4-1 defeat to Napoli, which got their Champions League run off to a dreadful start, the 31-year-old made himself useful and ensured that his side weren’t totally humiliated, as he notably won six tackles.
That’s a good statistic in itself for a substitute, but when you figure that starters Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and James Milner only made six combined, you quickly assimilate Thiago’s immense importance to his team. The former Bayern Munich maestro also won seven of his nine duels, as Fabinho managed just two out of eight and Milner merely three of 11.
While it’s likely to be the latter who Thiago replaces in the starting XI, his return would represent an upgrade on any of his midfield teammates who’ve played a part in Liverpool slumping to poor results in his absence.
Thiago’s an amazing footballer. There’s very few players who are so gifted. I would have him as probably the most gifted player I’ve seen in the Premier League, as in technique, he is extraordinary,” Cascarino declared on talkSPORT.
“We’ve all seen loads but Thiago is up there with the very best. Ever. Technically, he’s up there with the very best. Technically he has got everything. If he plays a lot of football, Liverpool will be close. If he has injuries, then Liverpool will suffer.”
And suffer they have, but now it’s time for Klopp to remedy the Naples nightmare by bringing him back into the fold.