Premier League • England

Liverpool veteran’s return to former club accelerates after Klopp breaks down January barriers

Liverpool stars Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah

Liverpool will not stand in the way of Thiago Alcantara if Barcelona firm up their interest in him for the January transfer window, according to reports.

Thiago is still awaiting his first appearance of the season due to injury – and once he recovers, there will be four new midfielders compared to last season standing in his way after Liverpool invested in Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch over the summer.

It followed the departures of senior players like Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Naby Keita – and Thiago himself could be shown the door in 2024 as well.

The Spain international is into the final season of his contract at Anfield, and any hopes he has of staying at Liverpool seem to be fading by the week.

Nevertheless, he could bounce back by joining another high-calibre club. In recent weeks, speculation has started to develop about a return to his first employers, Barcelona.

And according to Diario Sport, Barcelona could now bring forward their plans to offer Thiago a second spell after Gavi was ruled out for the season with an ACL injury.

Operating within a tight budget, Barcelona are looking for affordable reinforcements they could bring in midway through the season – and they have turned their attention back to Thiago.

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The report claims they could now try to sign him for a small fee in January rather than on a free in the summer.

Furthermore, it is suggested that Liverpool will not stand in Thiago’s way, since they are grateful to him for his service to the club since his 2020 arrival from Bayern Munich.

It means they could accept any reasonable offer from Barcelona, who believe Thiago will be better value for money than other targets such as Arsenal’s Jorginho and Real Betis’ Guido Rodriguez.

Barcelona believe Thiago would be best fit

Another reason Barcelona are so keen on Thiago is that he used to play alongside their head coach Xavi, so would have an immediate understanding of how to fit into their tactics.

Indeed, Thiago is deemed to be a better like-for-like replacement for Gavi than either Jorginho or Rodriguez, who are slightly more defensive.

La Liga’s reigning champions have also received encouragement that the 32-year-old will have shaken off the physical issues that have been limiting him in recent months by the time they are able to sign him.

During his previous spell with Barcelona, Thiago made made exactly 100 appearances, scoring 11 goals and providing 20 assists.

He is three short of that appearance tally for Liverpool, but the club he played most for was Bayern – with 235 appearances to his name for the German giants.

Bayern bought Thiago in 2013 in order for him to follow Pep Guardiola, so his potential second spell with Barcelona would come over a decade since his first ended.

At this stage, though, Barcelona are still in the early days of planning how to cover for Gavi, who only suffered his injury on Sunday.

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