Jurgen Klopp’s big Thiago Alcantara decision pays off and eases transfer window worries

Thiago starred in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Leeds on Sunday in the Premier League and Klopp’s call to start the Spaniard over a trusted midfielder paid off in style

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  • 05:30, 14 Sep 2021
  • Updated06:22, 14 Sep 2021
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Jurgen Klopp 's big decision to start Thiago Alcantara over captain Jordan Henderson against Leeds on Sunday paid off and eased transfer window worries

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The Spaniard starred in Liverpool 's 3-0 victory at Elland Road, a match marred by Harvey Elliott's gruesome ankle dislocation.

Goals from Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane lifted the Reds into third place in the Premier League table, remaining unbeaten from four matches.

Although the attacking performance had supporters salivating, fans were raving about the Italian-born 30-year-old, who was selected by Klopp instead of Henderson.

Thiago showed why Klopp put his faith in him
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Image:
Pool via REUTERS)

Liverpool were constantly linked with signing a replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum – who left to join Paris Saint-Germain for free in July – to reinforce the midfield department during the summer window but Thiago has eased concerns after a difficult first year in England.

Receiving a rapturous applause when he departed in stoppage-time on Sunday, Thiago managed an assist for Mane's late strike, adding to a 89% passing accuracy and his two key passes.

The ex- Bayern Munich and Barcelona technician also completed all four of his long balls, impressing against the top-flight's most intense side away from home to silence his critics.

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Former Reds midfielder Jamie Redknapp was heaping praise on Thiago while on punditry for Sky Sports at Elland Road.

"I've listened to a lot of people talk about Thiago. When Liverpool go on a bad run people go 'he slows the play up and can't handle the intensity'. Absolute garbage," Redknapp said.

"This guy is one of the best technicians you'll see in world football don't matter what kind of pressure you put him under, he's never panicked.

"He relaxes on the ball. There was a lot of times where he was in good positions to help out the defence.

Redknapp says Thiago has received unfair criticism
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Image:
Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Will an improved Thiago fill the void left by Wijnaldum? Give us your verdict here.

"He is incredible to watch and it did my head in last year listening to people who don't understand the midfield role," he claimed.

"How to keep the ball, what to do, how to be in the right position. how to show quality, how to set people up for chances.

"It's because people are always looking for a scapegoat. Someone to say it's their fault but he is brilliant and that's why Jurgen Klopp played him today."

Klopp himself alluded to Thiago also playing a vital role in his team's game plan.

"Our idea was to cut out [Kalvin] Phillips, which is important; to cut out the passes they usually want to play, how they want to find him in the centre," the German told his club's website. "That took a little bit of their game plan away or whatever.

"In our case, I think we had a lot of moments where we won the ball and then we were obviously [in a] quite expansive formation we have in possession and we used the space quite well to set our own attacks.

"But, how I said, without intensity it’s not possible, this is not a game you can play nice like chess – you have to throw everything on the pitch to make little advantages. We did that," he explained.

"That’s what I liked most about the game, that we were really ready – for the atmosphere today, the intensity Leeds are asking for. It’s a really tough place to come and we did really well."

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