LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 24, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool fans defend Thiago after journalist’s “mind-boggling” criticism

Fans have moved to defend Thiago after his lack of assists for Liverpool was used to criticise his impact, with many pointing out that the final pass isn’t really his job.

It would be wrong to argue that Thiago‘s first season with the Reds has been anything close to a resounding success.

Since swapping Bayern Munich for Liverpool in a deal worth £25 million, the Spaniard has made 25 appearances, of which only 10 have seen him end on the winning side.

Overall, the Reds have suffered in 2020/21, and with injury and illness plaguing his start to life on Merseyside, that is certainly true of their No. 6.

Despite a humbling 1-1 draw to Newcastle on Saturday, Thiago produced one of his best performances for the club, with his withdrawal in the 76th minute pointed to as the catalyst for a collapse.

He was the only player to break the 100-pass mark, finding his man with 90.1 percent and creating two chances, while also completing a game-high six tackles.

Thiago‘s incisive pass through for Mohamed Salah to lay off to Diogo Jota was one of the moves of the afternoon, and deserved to end in a second goal for the Reds and effectively kill off the game.

But in the aftermath, BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty pointed to a statistic courtesy of the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe to criticise Thiago‘s “impact (or lack of)”:

It is true, of course, that Thiago is yet to register his first assist for Liverpool, but he is not exactly a player renowned for teeing up goals for his team-mates.

Rather, Thiago is a midfielder who dictates play to allow those further forward to find dangerous openings – which explains why only six players (10+ appearances) average more passes per 90 in the Premier League than his 84.4.

McNulty’s criticism was rightly flagged by Liverpool supporters and even those of other clubs:

Perhaps the most pertinent responses in defence of Thiago came in highlighting that even if Liverpool had Kevin De Bruyne in the side they would still need those up front to finish their chances:

Perhaps, given he arrived at Liverpool as a proven world-class midfielder, Thiago should be held to higher standards than others.

But the 30-year-old has become a lazy scapegoat for a side with obvious issues all over the pitch, with those most recently emerging in attack, with wasteful finishing the issue against both Leeds and Newcastle last week.

For a player coming into an unsettled side, sidelined for months through injury, it has been an understandably difficult season for Thiago – to lambast him for failing to assist misses the point entirely.