Jurgen Klopp laughs at people who claimed Thiago slowed Liverpool down

With Thiago firmly established as one of the most important players at Liverpool, operating at world-class level, Jurgen Klopp has laughed off early criticism.

Thiago joined the Reds from Bayern Munich in a £25 million deal in 2020, with his reputation bringing with it great scrutiny over his performances at Anfield.

It was a tough start for the Spaniard, as injuries hampered his momentum, while some critics felt he was at odds with Klopp’s system.

Dietmar Hamann was one of those most vocal, telling talkSPORT on a number of occasions that he was “very cautious” over Thiago, agreeing with claims that he “really slows things down and doesn’t really play the way Liverpool play.”

This was quickly dismissed by Liverpool supporters, and now as Thiago assumes a vital role in the Reds’ quadruple push, Klopp has responded in kind.

“People were questioning if he suits our football?” he laughed.

“Thank god these people don’t make decisions. Really.

Thiago wanted to join us, and he knew how we play. He’s a real football person, he thinks a lot about football, and he knew how we play.

“He knew he would fit in and we knew as well.

“In this case, it’s all about being fit, staying fit and getting used to the slight differences to the former club, and then you can go from there.

Thiago‘s only problem was he was injured – it started with an Everton game, to be honest. That didn’t help.

“But there was never a question about if he would suit. We only signed him because we knew he would help us.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 2, 2022: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Though Klopp is clearly enamoured with Thiago‘s play and appreciates his level of contribution in the run-in, the manager is eager not to jinx the situation when it comes to his fitness.

“It’s great, but I don’t like to talk too much about one player,” he insisted.

“Always when we do that, something happens to the player! So I’d leave this room and hear ‘Thiago feels a little bit here or there’.”

In recent weeks, Thiago has been joined by Naby Keita in the middle of the park, with their combination with Fabinho leading to two of the most devastating performances of Klopp’s time at the club: Benfica away and against Man City in the FA Cup semi-final.

But the manager stressed similar when it came to the Guinean, who is likely to be handed an extension to a contract that currently expires in 2023.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, December 16, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara (L) and Naby Keita after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It’s the same situation as with Thiago, I don’t like to talk about it because exactly the same expectation from my side is that I go outside and someone tells me Naby can’t play,” he said.

“But when Naby was fit and Naby could get some rhythm, he was always really good.

“Unfortunately, he could not get as much rhythm as he wished, as we wished, in the past. Maybe that’s over now and the future is bright for him.

“He’s a great player, wow.

“When did Naby come here? The year before, Keita and Thiago were the best midfielders in the Bundesliga by a distance.

“So we took Naby first and then a bit later Thiago, so it was obviously a good idea.”