We have not seen the silky smooth Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara suit up for Liverpool since late last season. He’s been out recovering from a hip operation as the 32-year old tries to salvage the late stages of his career.
Over the summer, there was a complete midfield overhaul at Anfield as the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo were all signed.
The likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all were sent packing. At one point, it looked like Thiago would be joining the exodus but Liverpool held firm.
As the newly designed midfield has continued to grow and thrive together, one could be forgiven for forgetting Thiago is still under contract. His deal runs through the end of this season so Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to get something out of him before he leaves.
Recently, Klopp stated that he thinks the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona maestro should be good to go just after the New Year.
While this is exciting to hear, it’s not the first time the club spoke optimistically about a Thiago return. This is one of those situations that until he is included in a Matchday squad, you can’t assume anything.
Let’s say that he does come back sometime in January or February. What can he offer to the side for the last few months of his Liverpool deal?
While he is a very injury prone player, there’s no denying his exquisite ability on the ball when he is fully fit. There are few that can put the ball on a string like Thiago can.
Yet, having said that, I don’t think you could pencil Thiago into the starting XI of the current midfield. Szoboszlai in particular has been incredible to begin his Liverpool career and Mac Allister and Gravenberch have both shown high ceilings.
There is something that he could help the Reds with and that is breaking down smaller teams that pack things in tightly and refuse to budge. The Luton Town frustration being a recent example.
Thiago has the passing range and ability to find holes or spaces to unlock those kinds of defenses. Bringing him on around the 50th minute mark to try and split open a defense? Sign me up for that.
His days as a full-fledged unquestioned starter at Liverpool are over. That is both a testament to the incredible business done by the club and also a reality check of where he is right now.
I hope everything goes smoothly and we do see Thiago make a return to the squad. It’d be a shame if he can’t get on the pitch and show the world at least a few more times why he was once regarded as a top center-mid in the world.
Vamos Thiago, vamos.