Thiago Alcantara has said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is “hard work” but he is relishing working with the German coach and has revealed what surprised him in the Premier League.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports the 30-year-old has opened up on his first season in England as he prepares to play in front of an Anfield crowd for the first time. The Reds face Crystal Palace on the final day of the season on Sunday knowing a win will secure a top-four spot. It could be a happy end to an up and down season, which looked like ending in misery after big injuries to Liverpool’s first-choice centre-backs.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have all been ruled out for long periods for Klopp and Thiago admits his first season has been tough.
Thiago’s start after arriving from Bayern Munich was tough. He contracted Covid-19 in September. Then he picked up a knee problem and when he returned in January the team were struggling. It even led to talk Liverpool may offload him, but Klopp quickly refuted that talk.
Thiago said: “It was tough but I think I’ve had worse moments than that in my life,” he says. “With calm, with work and with resilience, you can overcome all situations.
“Looking back at this season, we had a lot of walls in front of us that we had to pull down. It was like that.
“We had many important players injured. We had to create a new team and a new style – very similar to what we had, but with different players.
“In the end, we created a group that is fighting for a place in the Champions League, so that’s nice.”
Thiago has made 23 Premier League appearances, including starts in the last six games, which have produced four wins and two draws.
The Italy-born midfielder has begun to settle into life in England after admitting the speed of the game after restarts and “long balls” surprised him.
“At the beginning, I was surprised by the rhythm of the game and the long balls,” he said . “Here, some teams have a lot of appreciation for how long balls can create big chances for them very quickly. And on the same point, the faster you put the ball in front, the faster it comes back.”
Thiago says the speed of the game is “the same all over Europe”. But concedes the speed after breaks in play is more intense in the Premier League.
“Throw-ins, corner kicks, goal kicks… everything happens at more speed here and you have to adapt to that,” he added. “When there is a situation where you think you can breathe, the ball is already in play again.”
Asked about Klopp, Thiago explains the demand the German places on the squad, but says he is intrigued by the 53-year-old.
“He has been great since the beginning,” said Thiago.
Klopp is ‘hard work’
“He’s a very beloved person here in our team, our club and in the city as well. Klopp’s interesting and at the same time he’s calm. He’s hard work, but with comic words as well.
“It’s very interesting to learn and to keep growing by his side.
“The feeling that I have without a title or a trophy this year is about how hard it is to get it.
“The main thing is to stay hungry but at the same time to evolve and adapt yourself, because even the maximum of 100 per cent you gave last year is not going to be enough the next year.
“You have to always be evolving and learning new things. You have to be the same 100 per cent player. But at the same time adding something new to your characteristics.
“For me, the experience I’ve had here is my trophy this year,” he says.
“To join this team, to train with these players every day, to join the league, to visit many new stadiums and play against great teams… I think those feelings are so important.”