Thiago found it difficult in the first months after his move to Liverpool from Bayern Munich, with injury, illness and a change of scenery hampering his productivity.
But upon taking a first-choice role in Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield towards the end of the season the Spaniard shone, more often than not standing out as the Reds’ best performer.
Phillips was a regular team-mate of Thiago‘s throughout that run, but had trained alongside the No. 6 throughout the campaign at Melwood and Kirkby, experiencing his quality up close.
“He’s unbelievable. His technical ability and just his knowledge of the game,” Phillips said.
“His head’s always on a pivot, he always knows exactly what’s around him to a centimetre. I love how he gets stuck in as well, I like that side of his game.
“I think at the start of the season few people were doubting him or weren’t sure.
“We were training with him day in and day out, and we all knew from seeing him – and obviously, what he’s achieved in the game prior – that no one needed to worry about anything.
“It’s sort of like you haven’t seen anything yet, because there were some moments he’d produce in games a bit later on that he’d produced in training, and those moments you’re like ‘wow, this guy’s a serious player’.
“So to just sort of share the pitch with him is something that I can look back on and be proud of, because he’s an unbelievable footballer.”
Thiago arrived with the experience of winning titles every season with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and the campaign just gone was the first in his senior career that passed without silverware.
It came in understandable circumstances for Liverpool, but with Thiago on the pitch moving forward, there is every chance the Reds enjoy more success.
“Thiago on a few occasions made a point of offering me praise in certain moments,” he continued.
“As in he’d sort of gone out of his way if we’d score a goal or whatever and come over to me and said ‘that comes from this tackle or this header’.
“Gini had done it as well. Obviously the manager after the games, things that he’d said to me and how happy he was, and just putting his trust in me and playing me.
“Those moments from people who’ve achieved so much in the game and are so respected in the game, that sort of praise and advice, it’s really nice to hear.
“It’s quite a deep moment, especially when you’re in the team and playing.
“It means something then, because if you’re performing poorly or letting the side down then the things you get, they’d let you know I think.
“So to know that it wasn’t just that they were saying that, and they actually meant it, was obviously nice to hear.”