Liverpool may release soon Thiago throwback as Jürgen Klopp finds another Gini Wijnaldum

Liverpool may release soon Thiago throwback as Jürgen Klopp finds another Gini Wijnaldum

Three weeks have passed since Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara returned from a hip injury, but he has yet to reclaim his starting position.

Instead, Jürgen Klopp has opted to use Curtis Jones in the number eight position on the left side, giving him the joint-longest streak of starts in his Anfield tenure.

Thiago came off the substitute to play the final 30 minutes of Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over West Ham, but notably, he replaced captain Jordan Henderson and not Jones.

Given that Liverpool spent the final quarter of the game defending its narrow lead and attempting to score on the counter, rather than playing its usual style, it was difficult to draw too many conclusions, but this was an intriguing throwback.

When Thiago joined Liverpool at the start of the 2020/21 season, he made three of his first four appearances as a defensive midfielder.

However, Klopp moved him to the right-sided number eight position for the voyage to Tottenham Hotspur, where he remained for 13 of the final 19 matches.

Within the German’s system, the right-sided central midfielder has typically been granted greater attacking freedom, while the left-sided central midfielder has been expected to primarily assist Fabinho defensively.

This is demonstrated by the statistics. Examine the difference between Thiago’s touch locations and creativity at right central midfield (in the second part of the 2021 season) and left central midfield (this season).
When Thiago plays on the right side of the field, he presses higher up the field and creates significantly more striking opportunities for his teammates.

We do not know if his cameo in the right central midfield against West Ham was a one-off experiment or if he will be deployed there frequently in the remaining games.

However, historical evidence implies that a change of course could be profitable.

After a difficult start to his Liverpool career, Thiago was one of his team’s best players in the second half of the 20/21 season, playing a pivotal role in Liverpool’s successful late drive for a top-four finish. He flourished in his elevated position.
Klopp could have relied on defensive specialist Gini Wijnaldum that season, but if Thiago plays on the right, Jones won’t have to attempt the nearly impossible task of imitating the Dutchman.

This is because Trent Alexander-Arnold now assumes a midfield position when Liverpool has the ball, providing additional cover — he is, in a sense, the new Wijnaldum, enabling those around him to be more creative.

As a result, Henderson’s offensive output has already increased dramatically, and Thiago would certainly surpass his 20/21 numbers as well. Given his vision and incisive passing ability, he may be able to make a greater impact in the final third than the captain.

Klopp has given Liverpool supporters a tantalizing glimpse of a potential template for the remainder of the season, and it will be interesting to see, after Henderson’s somewhat disappointing performance at the London Stadium, whether he employs it in Sunday’s match against Spurs.

Liverpool may release soon Thiago throwback as Jürgen Klopp finds another Gini Wijnaldum