Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will reportedly trial Thiago Alcantara in a more attacking role in pre-season in a bid to bring out his best talents.
The Spain international arrived as an exciting signing from then-European champions Bayern Munich last September. Despite an exciting debut away at Chelsea, he encountered a nasty knee injury against Everton in October. That ruled him out until late December and he initially struggled after returning.
Indeed, some pundits criticised him while the likes of Jamie Carragher defended his displays.
Thiago’s struggles came partly because the injuries in Klopp’s team forced him to play a deeper role. As such, he often could not produce his best passing game and drive his team forward.
Nevertheless, Thiago had the last laugh by putting in inspired form to help Liverpool storm back into the top four; after a mid-season slump, they won eight and drew two of their last 10 Premier League matches.
Such form came from the 42-cap Spain star playing further forward, as Klopp finally found defensive stability with Fabinho, Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams.
According to Football Insider, Klopp now wants to make Thiago become the ‘heartbeat’ of his team.
The manager will utilise the the midfielder further forward as a playmaker to his attacking trio in pre-season. The subsequent hope is to create a basis for the 2021/22 campaign.
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Klopp and Liverpool’s coaching staff believe that Thiago operates best further forward.
Playing in a more advanced role allows him to set up attacks more, even if he may not provide many direct assists.
Thiago, like fellow September signing Diogo Jota – who also suffered a nasty knee injury – only showed glimpses of his talent in Liverpool’s turbulent season.
However, the Reds will hope for a more injury-free campaign as they look to muster another title charge.
Liverpool fixtures announced
Elsewhere, Liverpool learned their schedule for the upcoming campaign on Wednesday.
The Reds begin by facing Norwich, as they did in their triumphant 2019/20 season.
After that, crucial October fixtures and a tough festive period await.