Rio Ferdinand has admitted his admiration for Thiago Alcantara, but Michael Owen has said that the Liverpool midfielder presents a “very difficult” problem.
Thiago arrived on Merseyside from Bayern Munich in September with weighty expectation on his shoulders.
The 29-year-old impressed straight away with impressive displays against Chelsea and Everton. However, he picked up a nasty knee injury against the Toffees in October, forcing a two-month lay-off.
As such, he has only recently reintegrated himself into the team, playing a part in Liverpool’s last 12 games.
His reintroduction has come with criticism about whether his silky style of play works in the Reds’ engine room midfield and Owen has outlined why he poses a problem for manager Jurgen Klopp.
“He’s coming into to a team who aren’t on the top of their game at the moment so it’s hard to make a judgement,” the pundit told BT Sport.
“We were discussing earlier, as a player we can appreciate him. He can do things… in fact he’s the most unique player in the Premier League. There’s nobody like him.
“The closest is probably Paul Scholes – the way he gives the eyes. But when you look at him, does he assist many? Not really, all his good passes are from a deep position.
“Does he stop goals? We’ve seen on the clips not a great deal. However we all know he’s brilliant. He pulls on your heartstrings it’s very difficult.
“I want to judge him when the team are back playing the best they can. It’s been a difficult start for him.”
Ferdinand then insisted that he can look past the inherent issue and appreciate Thiago for what he offers to Liverpool.
Ferdinand piles praise on Thiago
“I love him. I think he’s a great player. He might not necessarily play that final pass, the pre-assist. He’s the one that plays that ball to get somebody in,” Ferdinand said.
“They [Bayern Munich] played that pressing game. One of the best pressing teams in Europe last season. Undoubtedly. And he was a part of that, done it superbly.
“Like Mo [Owen] just said there he’s come into a team dismantled by injuries.
I think he’s a player who can play various roles in that midfield. He did it at Bayern easily.
“You can do that in a team that’s full of confidence, when your main players are playing week-in, week-out. He has not been afforded that.”
Thiago went on to play a key role on Tuesday as Liverpool beat RB Leipzig 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
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