Jamie Redknapp believes that some spectators need to appreciate what Thiago Alcantara offers to Liverpool in his midfield role.
The Spain international has endured a mixed spell since signing for Liverpool from Bayern Munich last September. He arrived after impressing in Spain and Germany and consequently did so with big expectations. But aside from a good start, he rarely showed his best talents in his debut season.
Still, injury to himself and players around him meant Liverpool did not have stability. As such, he had to play a slightly different role at times, which saw him face criticism.
However, the Reds have welcomed back the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho this season. As a result, Thiago enjoyed his role in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Leeds.
Despite one moment when his lack of awareness saw Patrick Bamford nick the ball, the 30-year-old had 90 per cent passing accuracy, completing 55 of his 61 passes. Meanwhile, he created two chances and notched one assist.
Speaking on Sky Sports‘ coverage of the match, Redknapp insisted Thiago’s critics must watch his performance.
“I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about Thiago. When Liverpool go on a bad run people go ‘he slows the play up and can’t handle the intensity’. Absolute garbage,” the pundit said.
“This guy is one of the best technicians you’ll see in world football, don’t matter what kind of pressure you put him under, he’s never panicked.
“He relaxes on the ball. There was a lot of times where he was in good positions to help out the defence.”
Thiago earned the nod in the midfield alongside Fabinho, who was equally impressive, and Harvey Elliott, who had to come off with a nasty injury.
Redknapp added that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp got his midfield selection correct.
Redknapp lauds Thiago, Liverpool display
“He is incredible to watch and it did my head in last year listening to people who don’t understand the midfield role,” Redknapp added.
“How to keep the ball, what to do, how to be in the right position, how to show quality, how to set people up for chances.
“It’s because people are always looking for a scapegoat. Someone to say it’s their fault. he is brilliant and that’s why Jurgen Klopp played him today.
“It would have been easy to go with [Naby] Keita or [Jordan] Henderson and try and outrun this Leeds side. He realised you need a brain. You need someone that’s going to show composure, be relaxed on the ball and play to a red shirt. that’s’ what he does.”
Liverpool return to action next Saturday when facing Crystal Palace – who beat Tottenham this weekend – at Anfield.