Thiago Alcantara just become a Liverpool player a couple of days ago after winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich. Despite the fact that he just signed, and that he hasn’t really had a preseason, Jurgen Klopp saw fit to name Thiago to the bench against Chelsea. To the surprise of many, including myself, the German manager brought the midfielder on for Jordan Henderson after half time. What ensued was a glimpse of all that had been promised during the drawn out period of transfer speculation.
Though he has just been with the team a few days, Thiago immediately got involved in directing traffic from his holding midfield role. He was pointing for where he wanted Wijnaldum to cover, and was vocal in calling for an early pass from Andrew Robertson (and is already calling him Robbo).
Beyond seamlessly taking over leadership of the midfield, Thiago just oozed a calm confidence and swagger with his play. No matter the situation, he never seemed flustered. And even though he came into a game where his team was up a player, there was no question as to the class he provided with his vision and passing range.
In short, Thiago absolutely bossed the game when he came in. He set the tempo and dictated play. It was a joy seeing his quick feet in tight situations, and the seemingly effortless way he pinged the ball around the field. Despite being on the field for only 45 minutes, he completed more passes than the entire Chelsea team, and completed more passes into the final third of the field than any player involved in the game.
Thiago’s debut pass map:— Omar (@topimpacat) September 20, 2020
Are there any midfielders in the world better at dictating tempo from deep? pic.twitter.com/9xX7OrokUE
While a lot of words have been written about just how good Thiago is, it was different to finally see it in a Liverpool shirt. The fact that Klopp trusted him despite only having a day or two to get integrated into the team (and you know, learn people’s names and such) bodes well for Thiago having a large influence on the midfield this season. While his minutes might need to be managed, he seems ready to step in and be a game changer already.