Why fans can probably ignore reports of Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool

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Another day, another high-profile player linked with Liverpool. This time it is Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara—a potentially brilliant signing, but also an unlikely one.

As the current world and European champions, and soon-to-be Premier League title-winners, the Reds are unsurprisingly linked with all manner of players around the globe.

It is an agent’s dream, and perfect fodder for tabloid journalists, as any mention of possible interest from Jurgen Klopp is then reproduced by a number of publications, lapped up by supporters and seeped onto the radar of other clubs.

One of the oldest tricks in the book for representatives is ‘leaking’ claims of big-name suitors while contract negotiations are ongoing, and that appears to be the case with Thiago.

On Wednesday morning, German outlet Sport Bild relayed word that the Spanish midfielder could “suddenly” leave Bayern, in a “surprising turn” in talks with the club, having “backed off” from the offer of a new deal.

“He has the feeling that he now has the last chance in his career to go to another top club in Europe, to have a new experience abroad or to return home [to Barcelona],” the report continues.

That is where Liverpool come in, with Bayern supposedly discussing “alleged interest” from Klopp’s side, as the manager “thinks highly” of the 29-year-old.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 19, 2019: Liverpool's Naby Keita (L) and FC Bayern Munich's Thiago Alc·ntara during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Bayern M¸nchen at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Back in 2017, soon after a £52.75 million deal was struck with RB Leipzig to bring Naby Keita to Merseyside, Klopp claimed the Guinean was tied with Thiago as the best player in the Bundesliga.

“He’s the player of the league, that’s how it is,” he said of Keita.

“Last year together with Thiago Alcantara, who played outstanding for Bayern, he was the flier.”

Thiago is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders in world football, and is still arguably underrated despite his consistently brilliant displays for Bayern since joining from Barca in 2013.

His metronomic passing play from the base of the midfield gives the Bundesliga champions a platform to build from, with Thiago hardworking and comfortable in tight spaces due to his dribbling ability and close control.

It comes as no surprise that Klopp is an admirer, but that does not mean Liverpool would be pursuing a move were he to opt to leave Bayern.

His contract with the Munich side expires in 2021, which is likely why speculation has mounted as clubs could potentially seal a cut-price deal, but having turned 29 in April, he is out of the age range of a typical Reds signing.

The oldest outfield player Liverpool have brought in during Klopp’s reign was Ragnar Klavan, at 30, but £4.2 million for a fourth-choice centre-back with proven credentials was clearly seen as sensible business.


 

Beyond that the oldest to join the Reds since the start of 2016 have been Virgil van Dijk and Xherdan Shaqiri, who were both 26, with the average age of outfielders signed for the senior squad being just 24.2.

The most common age for a Liverpool signing is 24, with Joel Matip, Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino all joining before their 25th birthday, and sell-on value is a big consideration for any deal sanctioned.

Thiago would, therefore, serve as an exception if he were to join—and likely, despite his dwindling contract, for a fee more typically set aside for a marquee addition yet to hit his peak years.

Given Liverpool have already pulled out of a £50 million deal for 24-year-old Timo Werner, it is highly unlikely a move for Thiago could be justified.

Though he could serve as the ideal replacement for Gini Wijnaldum were he to depart on the expiry of his own deal in 2021, it is not a move Reds fans should get excited about just yet.

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