As far as debut campaigns go, Thiago‘s was as far from normal and ideal as could be.
The end of his previous season with Bayern Munich ended after some leagues had restarted for 2019/20, given they reached (and won) the delayed Champions League final, so it was post-pre-season and a protracted transfer that he joined up with Jurgen Klopp and Co.
After some integration on the tactical side and recouping a good fitness level, Thiago‘s season was interrupted by the shocking Richarlison tackle in the derby which left him sidelined for months.
Add in games behind closed doors, team-mates going down injured all over the show and a record-breaking awful home run, it’s a wonder that he even managed to return to put in performances as impressive as he did in the run-in, helping the Reds to third and back into the Champions League.
This summer he went to Euro 2020 with Spain but barely featured – but he has explained exactly why now, giving an indication that he was there for guidance and as something of a last resort for Luis Enrique to turn to.
“The last season I started with – from a long time before that – some pain up there in the hamstring, between the glutes, old pain,” he told the club website.
“I was never clean to play because I was always with that pain and there’s a point during the end of the last season that I started to feel [it] more and more. And with the national team, even I couldn’t sprint in some terms, I couldn’t do some actions.”
That shows why he was perhaps under-utilised, and came back with an injury in pre-season.
It now appears fixed and he’s ready to go, with the No6 pointing to some iconic games last term which will stay with him, even if the season as a whole was unsuccessful – something he wants to remedy in 2021/22.
“The minimum we have to give is how we ended with these wins, with these extraordinary moments. But at the end, it was just about pushing because of the situation that we had.
“We weren’t happy enough, so we were pushing to be as happy as we could. But now we start from zero and we want everything, we want to win everything again.
“It was great to have everybody and everything against us, and we did it. Ali’s goal was unbelievable, I remember games in Old Trafford that we won without playing that football and it was also good. But it’s just experience that you have to say, ‘OK, we finished last season playing a game we were not that happy with and we finished third.’ So playing as we want and as we desire, we can reach and we can win everything, as I say.”
He’ll feature in the final two pre-season games this summer, all being well, and nobody should be surprised if our Spanish maestro really shows the Premier League what he’s capable of this term.