Thiago Alcantara cannot be blamed for Liverpool’s alarming slide in fortunes, despite suggestions the Spaniard has disrupted their winning formula.
Liverpool’s slump since late December has coincided with Thiago’s return to fitness, with Spain star struggling to find his natural role in Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool have won two of the eight Premier League matches Thiago has played in since his return to the side. Indeed, their defeats against Southampton, Burnley and Brighton – coupled with Sunday’s 4-1 home defeat against Manchester City – have seemingly ending Liverpool’s title defence.
The 29-year-old has displayed his wonderful range of passing in a Liverpool shirt. However, Thiago has struggled to find decisive passes in the final third and does not have an assist to his name.
Yet Redknapp insists Thiago does not deserve to be singled out as the fall guy for Liverpool’s demise.
“It’s a load of rubbish to try and blame Thiago for Liverpool’s problems over the last few weeks,” said Redknapp, speaking at a Sky Sports event.
“We are talking about one of the great technicians in the game here. I could watch him play football all day. The idea that people are saying he is Liverpool’s problem is laughable in my eyes.
“This guy played in the Champions League final last year, he is a class act. He is one of the best midfield players in the world and that has not changed in the last few weeks.
“He is a technician who can do special passes and special things. It’s not his fault to say Liverpool are conceding goals or blame him for some of their performances. It’s not fair.
“He is a slightly different player. Maybe there will be games when you need [Jordan] Henderson, [Gini] Wijnaldum and Fabinho in that midfield like Liverpool had last year. But I find it quite disrespectful to talk about Thiago like this.”
Redknapp says Van Dijk absence is key
Redknapp believes the absence of Virgil van Dijk is at the root of Liverpool’s woes. He even suggests the Dutchman is more than just a defender for Klopp.
“When you take a leader and a presence out of that team like Van Dijk, it is more than just losing a defender,” he continued.
“First of all, you are taking Jordan Henderson out of the midfield and trying to turn him into a defender. Secondly, the whole team is affected as the big man is not there.
“You can see it at both ends of the field. There is a bit of a panic from the forwards as they feel like they need to score with every chance. That’s because they know they are not as secure at the back any more.
“With Van Dijk there alongside Joe Gomez or Joel Matip, there was a belief they were going to keep clean sheets.
“We see the same with Man City now. Ruben Dias has given their defensive team solidity. Now the rest of the team know they have time to wait for their moment to come. But that confidence is not there for Liverpool right now.
“They also miss Virgil at the other end of the pitch as he is such a threat on set-pieces and he intimidates opponents when they stand next to him in the tunnel.
“If there was one player Liverpool couldn’t afford to lose it was Virgil van Dijk. Let’s not forget that until he arrived at the club, they were scraping into the top four and not much else.
“He changed everything because he is that good. Now it has changed the other way because he is not there.”
The Premier League title race continues this weekend on Sky Sports, with Man City v Spurs on Saturday evening at 5.30pm.