Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara do Nascimento

Current Club: Liverpool.

Previous Clubs: Bayern Munich, Barcelona.

Loan Clubs: N/A.

International: Spain 46 caps 2 goals.

Trophies Won: UEFA Champions League 2010/11, 2019/20. FIFA Club World Cup 2012, 2014. German Bundesliga 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20. Spanish La Liga 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13. UEFA Supercup 2011/12, 2013/14. German FA Cup 2013/14, 2015/16, 2018/19, 2019/20. English FA Cup 2022, Spanish FA Cup 2008/09, 2011/12. Spanish Super Cup 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12. German Super Cup 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19. English League Cup 2022. Community Shield 2022/23. European U-17 2008. European U-21 2011, 2013.

The problem with Thiago is that the first thing that comes to mind is that he must be made of tissue paper. At the age of 33 now, his constant injury problems are just not going to get better playing in the high-paced Premier League, which is clearly just too physical for him. For all his ability, one thing that Thiago really is not great at is physicality. He can use his body well to shield the ball, he is not afraid to put a tackle in either, but Thiago likes to play the game at walking pace.

Thiago has an excellent range of passing and great vision, but he wants too much time on the ball for the Premier League, something which was afforded to him in both the Bundesliga and La Liga. In England you need to move the ball on quickly and tire out the opposition to create a bit of time on the ball, which often catches out Thiago. That is his other main weakness in Premier League terms, the way he consistently wants an extra touch or two or three, while he looks for the perfect pass.

That time and space just is not afforded to him and I would think that is a big part of the reason for his constant niggly injuries before he joined Liverpool, becoming a horrendous list of constant longer term injuries since signing. Thiago has a lack of pace and general mobility, which makes it difficult for him to get away from oncoming contact, so he looks to shield the ball and ride the challenge. His body is clearly not strong enough to cope with the bashing it gets.

It is a shame for the Premier League that it has never really got to see his talents the way that the Bundesliga did, because he is a magnificently talented player. In Spain and Germany he was often closed down, but it was usually just one player getting tight to him and Thiago could keep the ball away from them and pick his pass. In England teams have seen his tendency to take those extra touches and so often close him down in a pack, so his pretty turns just take him into trouble, rather than away from it.

Thiago wants to control the tempo, to slow it down and play at his own pace, but that is a luxury he never got with Liverpool. He did try to speed up his play, but it was clear that it was just too late for him to learn a new way of playing. That he could just not shake off his natural inclination to take an extra touch, rather than looking to play the early ball and so he would often end up just trying to play safe with casual sideways passes that could easily be picked off.

When hurried, his passes became loose and sloppy. For all his natural talent, Thiago is simply a one-paced player who could not step up to a faster paced league's requirements. Given time and space, Thiago can take control of a game and run it. But his body and his brain were simply not up to the faster paced world of the Prem. The question is whether he has anything left in the tank to come back from this season of constant injury and play again at the top level, even in a slower league.

I have no doubt that, everytime Thiago plays well in the future, there will be a slew of posts on the Liverpool site about what could have been if only he had stayed fit, but the simple fact is that he was unsuited to the Premier League. He wants to invite pressure on to himself to create passing opportunities, he wants to have player/s close him down and attempt to take the ball off him. That is how Thiago plays, to show a player the ball, rolling his foot over it in a casual manner to entice players in, then look to either turn it away from them and play a pass or ping a pass straight into the space they have left.

That works in Spain and Germany, usually, as the closing down is less frenetic, and he can show his skills and passing range. In England he was found unable to adapt to deal with being hounded by players in midfield who would not just give up the first time they were beaten. They hound Thiago and harry him, forcing him to lose his cool and he is unable to set the tempo and play his game. It is why he is not a case of what could have been, but a case of wrong player, wrong place.

Requested by - Jurgen Meister, Walkon79, praveenlfc, Livebird31