The signing of Thiago Alcantara at Liverpool will lead to “many unhappy faces” and could hasten Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure at Anfield.
The signing of the much-decorated Spain midfielder has been heralded by all as a fantastic piece of business. The deal has even given Steven Gerrard “butterflies”.
Thiago made an impressive debut on Sunday as Liverpool dealt Chelsea a 2-0 defeat. The midfielder stepped off the bench at the start of the second half and dictated the play with some neat passes and his vision.
Thiago Alcantara made 75 passes for #LFC on his debut against Chelsea; despite only coming on at half-time, it was more than any of his opponents managed in the whole game. 🤯
— TEAMtalk (@TEAMtalk) September 20, 2020
Once the former Bayern Munich star is up to speed he is likely to be one of the first choices for a place.
But with Jurgen Klopp insisting no player has to leave to accommodate Thiago, it leaves something of a conundrum.
When all are fit he will have eight players competing for three midfield slot. But the Reds boss believes that will be necessary with the schedule which awaits them this season.
“They cannot all play in the same moment, that is true. But you cannot keep a player happy by yourself. I am not worried about that,” said Klopp.
The Reds are also closing on a £41m deal for Diogo Jota and Klopp continued: “If we have more than three midfielders, for example, and we play 4-3-3, then a couple of players will not start or come on. That is always the case.
“Some don’t have the opportunity to come on and that is the squad for a matchday, that is how it is.”
However, pundit Danny Murphy believes Thiago will be a guaranteed pick for all Liverpool’s games, when fit.
Furthermore, he can see his arrival hastening Wijnaldum’s exit. The Dutchman has just over nine months remaining on his deal and has been linked with Barcelona.
Murphy wrote in the Daily Mail: “There is no doubt in my mind Thiago Alcantara is coming to Liverpool as a first XI player. I doubt very much he’s had any conversations with Jurgen Klopp about sitting on the bench this season.”
He added: “He has great feet, passes well, has super awareness and can play in any of the midfield positions. I don’t see any risk at under £30million because he only had a year left on his Bayern contract.
“I do think Gini Wijnaldum’s departure has an air of inevitability about it now. Liverpool will have seven or eight players challenging for three positions, which means too many unhappy faces for the balance of the squad.”
Van Dijk praise suggests new-look Liverpool XI
Liverpool may well have stumbled on their new most-effective XI after a vote of confidence from Virgil Van Dijk.
Injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip saw the Reds pick Fabinho as a central defensive partner alongside Van Dijk on Sunday.
However, the ‘calculated risk’ appears to have reinforced Klopp’s hunch that utilising the midfielder as an auxiliary centre-back could prove his long-term position.
The Brazil international has established himself as one of the best holding midfielders in the game. However, Fabinho was arguably the best player on the pitch as the Reds recorded a 2-0 win.
The Brazilian led his team’s statistics in both tackles and interceptions made, gained possession and successful passes. At 101, he also had the second-most touches.