Not yet twenty years of age, midfielder Thiago Maia had quite the 2016. In addition to nailing down a place in midfield for eventual Brasileiro Série A runners-up Santos during last season’s campaign, the young man was also a gold medal winner for Brazil during the Rio summer Olympics. Chelsea’s Antonio Conte was thought to have been monitoring the player over the summer, and while a move to England did not materialize, links with big spenders on the continent have persisted, including rumored interest from Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke, and Napoli.
According to ESPN Brazil, you can add Liverpool Football Club to the list of potential suitors in January. If a bidding war does materialize, as Santos hopes it will, the price tag will likely creep beyond €18m, in part due to a purported contractual peculiarity where the player himself - and not a third party investor - would be owed a portion of the transfer fee. Liverpool have thus far only flexed some of the financial muscle available to Jürgen Klopp, but have also showed fiscal restraint in not getting drawn into negotiations where they pay significantly more than what they want to pay.
Thiago Maia operates primarily as a defensive midfielder, and would thus represent competition for Emre Can and compatriot Lucas Leiva. Like Can, the young Brazilian can build up quite a head of steam going forward, and has displayed an eye for the occasional incisive pass in addition to being a bruising ball-winner. If he does show up at Melwood in the new year, it’s likely he would be a backup for Can or Jordan Henderson while accelerating the curtain call on Lucas’ Liverpool career.
At just nineteen years of age, there are some questions around the player’s near-term ability to adapt to a new country and new language, but fortunately Liverpool - like a number of clubs in Europe - have a notable contingent of Brazilian players who could help to ease the transition. For now, however, this rumor is just another reminder that silly season is around the corner.