Liverpool winger Sadio Mane says that Thiago Alcantara took him by surprise when he made his debut for the club in September.
Thiago arrived from Bayern Munich in the last transfer window and made an immediate impact in midfield.
But as well as his control on the ball, his eye for a pass has gained admirers from across the Premier League.
One such pass came against Everton – and to Mane – who then set up Jordan Henderson for a later disallowed winner.
However, he has only had limited chances since that game in October to display his quality. Indeed, he picked up a knee injury at Goodison Park which ruled him out until the end of December.
As such, Mane feels excited to have the Spaniard back on the pitch – especially ahead of Sunday’s huge clash with Manchester United.
“I always said Thiago is one of the best in his position in the world, for sure,” the forward told liverpoolfc.com.
“He was unlucky with the injury, but now he is coming back. It is not easy to come back from an injury and be 100 per cent on the pitch, but you can see Thiago [and his quality].
“From his first game I was impressed because I didn’t think he would be that impressive on the pitch! It is coming slowly, slowly and I think he is reaching his best level, which is very good for us and for Liverpool Football Club. I can’t wait.”
Mane added that he is happy to have Thiago in the side for his ability to supply players further forward with chances.
“We have many great players in midfield and Thiago is one of them,” he said.
“He has this quality of pass, which is another advantage for our front three because we can see how good he is in passing.
“I think this makes the team even better. We are looking forward to seeing more of this – his magic! – to help the team together.”
Liverpool receive injury boost
Meanwhile, Liverpool received a key fitness boost ahead of the clash with the Red Devils at Anfield.
On Friday, Joel Matip took part in team training for the first time since suffering a groin issue just after Christmas.
As such, he has put himself in contention to play alongside Fabinho at the back.