Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been warned that signing Thiago Alcantara could have a detrimental impact on three midfield players he already has at his disposal. The Reds have been strongly linked to the Bayern Munich ace in recent months.
Thiago has less than a year left on his Bayern contract and is said to be keen on a new challenge, with Liverpool reportedly catching his eye.
It has been claimed £27million-rated Spain international would love to link up with Klopp’s side, who have won the Champions League and the Premier League in the past two seasons.
Klopp has publicly declared that Thiago is a “really good player” and added: “It’s nice we are linked with him but that’s pretty much all really.
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“He’s a good player, Liverpool is a big club, so it’s nice, but apart from that, I’ve got nothing to say. Unfortunately I cannot end the speculation.”
Yet though it has been suggested Thiago, 29, would offer the Reds an extra way to break down tightly-packed Premier League defences, ex-Manchester City and England defender Micah Richards believes there could be a downside to his arrival.
Richards thinks that the likes of James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may all feel disheartened were Thiago to come in and immediately slot in ahead of them in the pecking order.
Big things are expected of Keita this season after two injury-interrupted campaigns at Anfield while Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain have played their part in the Merseyside outfit’s domestic and continental success.
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Richards wrote in his column for the Daily Mail: “There has been a lot of excitement around them signing Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, but it isn’t that easy.
“Thiago is world-class but if Liverpool sign him, think how James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will feel.
“They played a part to get the club where they wanted to be only to see someone jump ahead of them.
“One of the aspects Klopp has done so well is forge a team spirit, a mind-set where everyone is together, and he won’t want to put that in jeopardy.
“You can shake off the odd bad result but the wrong signing at the wrong time can have huge consequences.”
Richards added of Liverpool’s title defence against his former club City this term: “Hunger won’t be a problem for Jurgen Klopp and his players. I look at their squad and I see strong characters.
“They have become accustomed to being successful, adding the Champions League, the Super Cup and Club World Cup, and they will be greedy for more. It was the same for us at City.
“Winning the FA Cup in 2011 made us feel like we were a coming force. We fostered a spirit, there was a buzz because we had signed so many big players and it all felt right for us to deliver. We added the Community Shield, too.
“What we struggled with, I believe, was the change in how we were perceived after we had become champions. We had put so much into winning the first title — and did it so dramatically — it took so much out of us. I’m not sure we fully understood how those around us were going to come for us.
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“Suddenly, you are the team who everyone hates and there is a difference to the tempo of games.
“Liverpool aren’t the underdogs anymore, so how will they adjust to pressure? When you are champions, people resent you. Have a look at the guard of honour City gave to Liverpool in July. Bernardo Silva, for one, was highlighted because he looked uninterested when he was clapping and walked off before it had ended.
“I don’t advocate bad sportsmanship but I know what he was thinking. The mentality of elite players means they are never satisfied. They can’t stand seeing rivals win.
“How, then, could Bernardo or any other City player have enjoyed standing in a line with their title gone? Liverpool are going to find themselves under attack from all angles.”
Former Liverpool midfielder Don Hutchison however thinks Thiago can add the kind of on-the-ball quality that the Reds do not currently have outside of Keita, who has suffered with fitness troubles throughout his time at the club.
He said on ESPN FC: “I was at the Community Shield and Arsenal just completely sat off Liverpool and allowed them to have loads of possession.
“Joe Gomez kept hold of the ball, Virgil van Dijk kept hold of the ball, they played balls into midfield and the midfield on that day just passed it sideways, there was no real penetration.
“I think a lot of teams are going to respect Liverpool being the title-holders and the champions and they’re going to sit off them.
“What you need in my opinion is someone like Thiago who has got a range of pass. He is a player who I have not seen for a long time, the way he plays in central midfield.
“His range of passing is excellent, he can ping it 50 yards right side, 60 yards left side, he fires balls into No 10s and No 9s, he’s aggressive with his passing, very confident on the ball, very rarely gives it away.
“I think apart from Naby Keita, what Liverpool have are excellent midfield players who press solely to win the ball back and give it to the front three.
“Keita changed the game in the Community Shield when he came on because of his running from midfield and his directness.
“They just need that something different, that technician in Thiago. If they get the Thiago signing, it would then convince me they can retain their title.
“I think if they don’t and [Pep] Guardiola signs [Kalidou] Koulibaly, that leapfrogs them to just being favourites.”
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