While the results have not gone Liverpool’s way of late, their No. 6 has impressed with his composure, technique and creativity in a deep-lying midfield role, teeing up a number of chances since his return from injury.
That knee problem has robbed Thiago of momentum, but after just four games and 242 minutes back on the pitch he has somehow found himself the focus of criticism.
Hamann and Barnes both gave interviews with talkSPORT after the draw with United to claim Thiago “slows things down” and does not suit the style of play Jurgen Klopp employs at Liverpool – seemingly ignoring the manager pushed for his signing.
“He slows things down and doesn’t really play the way Liverpool play,” Hamann claimed.
“Because Liverpool in the past, in the last few years, they had hardworking midfielders.
“They were skilful. Yes, not as skilful as Thiago, but they gave the ball to Mane, they gave the ball to Salah early and if you get the ball early on the wing, these guys can run at players – they’re very hard to stop, if not impossible to stop.
“I just feel with Thiago, because everybody was raving about him coming to Liverpool, he’s hardly played.
Hamann attempted to give his perspective as a pundit in Germany, having followed his former club Bayern Munich over the years, suggesting Thiago was not as important to the Bundesliga champions as many would suggest.
This comes despite there being frequent questions of late over whether Bayern are missing a key element following Thiago‘s exit.
“Now, I can tell you, he’s a good player, he’s a skilful player, yes, but there was never a time in Munich where people said ‘oh, he’s got to be the first on the teamsheet’, so I’d be very cautious when it comes to Thiago,” Hamann continued.
“The other thing is, he plays a different type of football. He likes to be in possession.
“Liverpool I think were always good when they weren’t in possession, when they got possession then they played it quickly forward.
“He’s not that type of player, so I think it’ll be very interesting when he does play more often now, how he’s going to change the dynamics of the team.”
“[Against United] Thiago, who was running the game and was the best player in the first half, I don’t think that necessarily helped the front three.
“When he slowed the game down in tight areas, that is not Mane’s game, that is not Salah’s game.
“So we’re getting used to a new system, but at the moment it’s not working.”
While Barnes’ criticism was less harsh than that of Hamann, it is still reductive to scrutinise the way in which Thiago is forcing a “new system” at Liverpool – particularly given the impact of injuries in the Reds’ defence.
Klopp’s side are certainly not in their best form of late, but to pin this on one of the few players to have consistently shone is bizarre.