Liverpool could give themselves Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane problem if they sign Thiago
The level of speculation surrounding Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool is only beaten by Jadon Sancho to Manchester United in recent months, at least in terms of deals that have yet to be done. The Reds have been heavily linked with the Spanish midfielder throughout the window, which is now entering its final weeks ahead of the October 5 deadline.
Jurgen Klopp admires the talented 29-year-old and would presumably love to add him to his ranks if the possibility were there, as it seems it could be.
But it has been widely said that Liverpool will not pay around £30million for a player who will turn 30 before the end of the season and who was a chequered injury history.
The latest reports have indicated the Premier League champions will wait to firm up their apparent interest in Thiago until the final week of the window.
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They hope that such an approach will panic Bayern Munich into selling for a cheaper price, knowing they risk losing the Spain international for free next summer when his contract expires.
But there are alternative suggestions that Liverpool simply will not sign Thiago unless they sell a midfielder of their own to make way first, with links between Gini Wijnaldum and Barcelona having cooled since the start of the new Premier League season.
Yet a move to Anfield cannot be ruled out and Liverpool have held talks with the player’s representatives, clearly showing they would be open to doing a deal. Claims from Spain even go as far to say a switch can be expected.
However, should Liverpool really look to press on with a move then they potentially face a problem concerning some of their top players already in Klopp’s first-team squad.
ESPN state that Thiago is expecting a £200,000 weekly wage from his next club, with it thought he earns a similar salary in Bavaria.
This will surely be Thiago’s last big contract, with it likely he will pen a three or four-year deal, after which he will be into the twilight years of his career.
And so he very fairly wants to ensure he gets as much money as he possibly can, with such a wage hardly unreasonable given he is a genuinely world-class midfielder.
But paying Thiago £200,000 a week might be a problem for Liverpool, given that is currently the pay-packet earned by top earner Mohamed Salah.
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The Egyptian scored a hat-trick in the opening match of the 2020-21 top-flight campaign against Leeds United last term.
That means he stands on an outrageous 97 goals and 41 assists in just 154 appearances since joining Liverpool from Roma in the summer of 2017, winning the Premier League title, the Champions League, two Premier League Golden Boots and a PFA Players’ Player of the Year award since then.
He has been every bit worth the money Liverpool paid Roma and have paid the 28-year-old winger since he signed.
By contrast, last year Liverpool were also said to be preparing an improved contract for Sadio Mane, who like Salah is currently tied down until 2023.
The Senegalese wide-man has been every bit as crucial as his fellow forward in recent seasons despite his lesser tally of 81 goals and 34 assists in 172 matches across four years at the club.
But he is thought to be on £100,000 a week and reports indicated that Liverpool were willing to double that salary in light of his contributions.
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Both Salah and Mane have signed improved deals since joining from Roma and Southampton respectively, having had to prove they are worthy of the big bucks.
That is exactly what they have done while it was suggested 12 months ago Virgil van Dijk was on the cusp of agreeing a new deal that could put him on £220,000 a week, having also played a pivotal role in the Reds’ successes since his January 2018 arrival.
And while Thiago, with his quality on the ball both with dribbling forward and finding his team-mates in space, could also have a significant impact on Klopp’s side, signing him would contradict the approach in place when it comes to recruiting new talents – although it could be argued that a change is necessary now that they are expected to compete for major honours every year.
The Spaniard would be particularly beneficial against teams that set up in a low block at Anfield and look to thwart influential full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson out wide.
If they looked to double up on the full-backs and also squeeze the space between their back-line and their goalkeeper to try and deny Salah and Mane running in behind, in Thiago they would have an extra threat to deal with through the middle.
Thiago is a master of the eye-of-the-needle passes, having come through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, and would help provide an extra weapon in the Liverpool arsenal to break down stubborn defences and help their quest for a 20th top-flight title, which would draw them level with arch-rivals Manchester United.
But for all of the obvious upsides of signing Thiago, bringing in a player on the same wages as Salah and also paid double that of Mane and £20,000 a week more than Van Dijk could cause the kind of issues Liverpool have always sought to avoid.
They have deliberately stayed away from big-money signings to ensure their wage structure is fair and rewards the club’s best performers while bringing in players for the right reasons and a desire to compete and succeed at the highest level, rather than those perhaps primarily seeking a pay-day.
And while Salah and Mane might love to have a passing maestro such as Thiago in the midfield behind him, their productivity in the last few years surely dictates that they – and the dominant Van Dijk in central defender – should be the highest-paid players at the club.
Bringing in the Bayern ace on financial parity, or on greater wages than the trio, especially if it is his basic pay rather than his wage after bonuses, might not go down too well with some of Liverpool’s most influential players.
So Michael Edwards and Klopp must ensure they get the terms of Thiago’s deal right if a move is to be agreed in the coming weeks – even more so given how many matches the midfielder has missed through injury in the past four years and the fact Liverpool do not have the riches to have a player who is paid as much as anyone else in their squad potentially regularly unavailable.
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