5 things that most impressed Jurgen Klopp about Thiago Alcantara’s Liverpool debut

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Liverpool fans got a first look at new signing Thiago Alcantara on Sunday as he made his debut in a 2-0 win over Chelsea.

The midfielder came off the bench at half time to replace the injured Jordan Henderson, and settled in quickly and effectively.

Jurgen Klopp was very pleased with what he saw from the Spaniard, as was his assistant Pep Lindjers, who waxed lyrical about the 29-year-old to the press on Wednesday.

"Good teams need good players, this team deserves a player like him, he will ensure we keep evolving,"said Lindjers. "Teams try to destroy our plans, so we have to remain unpredictable – he does that for us. We didn't buy a problem, we bought a solution."

Here are five things that would have caught Klopp's eye on Sunday.

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1. Passion

Thiago Alcantara celebrates winning possession for Liverpool
(Image: SkySports)

If there is one thing Klopp is then it is passionate.

The German lives, breathes and sleeps football, and it seems his new recruit is very much on the same page.

As the game was winding down on Sunday, Thiago forced N'Golo Kante into making a mistake, which resulted in the Chelsea star knocking the ball out for a Liverpool throw.

The challenge took place in the 89th minute of a match Liverpool were winning 2-0 – and deep in the Chelsea half of the pitch.

And yet Thiago still punched the air to celebrate the successful passage of play.

Klopp has previously celebrated tackles on the touchline, and will have been delighted to see his new signing buying into his philosophy of defending from the front so quickly.

2. Forward passing

Thiago floats a ball into the box
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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If there is one thing every top team needs then it is a man to pull the strings and dictate play from the in the middle of the park.

In recent years there have been question marks over whether Liverpool really have this.

Jordan Henderson can play a lovely pass, but his game is different to that of Kevin de Bruyne at Manchester City, for example.

Naby Keita was perhaps expected to be this type of player for Liverpool when he was signed from RB Leipzig, but the Guinean has never really fulfilled this role for the Reds.

Thiago's game doesn't mirror that of De Bruyne, but the Spaniard does offer Liverpool more creative options in midfield.

Against Chelsea the 29-year-old wasted no time dictating play, looking to float dangerous balls into Sadio Mane.

And it is exactly this what Lindjers was talking about when he said of Thiago: "Teams try to destroy our plans, so we have to remain unpredictable – he does that for us."

Liverpool have relied on Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to provide the majority of assists from wide positions.

But the Reds have a new attacking option now – a new string to their bow.

3. Positioning

Thiago played a deep-lying role against Chelsea
(Image: Sky Sports)

There were questions over what Thiago's introduction would mean for the likes of Fabinho and particularly Georginio Wijnaldum in recent weeks.

La Liga giants Barcelona have been sniffing around the Holland international, and Liverpool are yet to offer him a new contract.

But Sunday's win over Chelsea in someways put all worries to bed – and provided Klopp with a clear solution to his problems.

Fabinho usually plays in a holding role for Liverpool, but he was needed at centre-back what with Joel Matip and Joe Gomez both out injured.

The Brazilian put in a man of the match display, suggesting he'll continue to play in the role for the foreseeable future, while Wijnaldum took up a more attacking position than usual.

And the Dutchman was able to do so because of the position Thiago took up on the pitch.

Sitting primarily in front of the defence, Thiago provided a new line of defence that eased pressure on the back four and allowed the attacking players to get back into position in transition.

In fact, Wijnaldum flourished in his new advanced role – a position he takes up for Holland – and was able to contribute more often to attacking play.

Meanwhile, Thiago provided the entire Liverpool attack with a get out of jail free card.

The above image from the match shows a moment just after Keita was dispossessed and Chelsea attempted to hit Liverpool on the break.

Keita is seen desperately trying to catch up with his man, while Wijnaldum, behind him, is in an even more advanced position.

Thiago, meanwhile, is sitting just in front of the defence – pretty much in line with Robertson on the left-hand side, and ready to stifle the attack.

4. Anticipation

Thiago beats Timo Werner to the ball
(Image: Sky Sports)

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Anticipating play is one of the hardest things to do on a football pitch. It's what has separated the likes of Lionel Messi from the rest of the pack, and is seemingly a trait you're either born with or you're not.

As previously discussed, Thiago proved he has a creative eye for picking out an attacking pass, but in addition to taking up a deep position, the Spaniard proved on Sunday he is sensational at anticipating a game.

The 29-year-old was only on the pitch for half the match, but made a huge contribution to Liverpool's defensive play – simply by breaking up Chelsea attacks.

Arguably his most impressive moment came when he read a pass before it was made and beat Timo Werner to the ball in the Liverpool box – as illustrated in the image above.

Werner isn't slow, and a mistake would have certainly led to a penalty.

But Thiago timed his tackle to perfection, beating his man to the ball and winning back possession against Chelsea's most lethal attacking threat in an incredibly dangerous position.

5. Shots at goal

Thiago tests the keeper from distance
(Image: LFCTV/YouTube)

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Thiago may have been brought in to play a deep role in the middle, pull strings, and to provide an insurance for both the attack and defence, but he's also not against getting forward himself and having a shot.

The Spaniard didn't get a lot of chances on Sunday, after all the Reds were playing Chelsea, who boast some sensational attacking talent.

But he did test the keeper on one occasion, rifling one just past the post after picking the ball up in acres of space on the edge of the Chelsea area.

Will Thiago be a success at Liverpool? Have your say here.

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