Thiago issues perfect response to Jamie Carragher following "liability" claim
When Thiago Alcantara was signed by Jurgen Klopp, many felt it would be the arrival to bring another Premier League title to Liverpool.
Building upon a side that cantered to the league last season, the Bayern Munich star was seen as the cherry on top of Klopp's cake.
But it hasn't gone exactly to plan for the Reds, or their superstar summer signing.
Injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have upset the rhythm of a side that had played an almost faultless tune for three seasons.
In the one appearance Thiago made alongside van Dijk, Liverpool supporters were given a glimpse into Klopp's long-term vision for the next stage of his team.
Unfortunately those 56 minutes are now a distant memory, with the Dutchman ruled out for the majority of the season with an ACL injury.
Since then, Thiago has struggled, firstly with injuries and then testing positive for coronavirus. That meant his first Anfield start was delayed until the middle of January.
Hiis return has coincided with Liverpool's poorest run of form in recent memory, with their title hopes all but evaporated with a run of just two wins in those nine league games.
Thiago himself has come in for criticism, as Klopp's grand plan of bringing him to Merseyside has been questioned.
For many it has been a case of right player, wrong time for a midfielder clearly dripping with star talent.
Following the defeat to Leicester City last time out, Carragher slammed the Spaniard, suggesting his defensive work made him a 'defensive liability' within the starting line-up.
But Klopp, arguably out of necessity more than anything else, kept him in the XI for the Champions League last-16 tie with RB Leipzig.
And in Budapest, against opposition he will be familiar with, there were promising shoots, suggesting Thiago is beginning to become comfortable in all facets of Liverpool's game.
Labelled the 'weak link' in their press on Saturday, he looked ready for the tactic against Leipzig. Unsurprisingly his pass completion percentage was higher than any other player on display, but it was that work off the ball which will have provided Klopp with the most optimism.
With two tackles, one interception and two aerial duels won, Thiago provided the kind of steel that will make him a long-term success in the champions' midfield.
His performance also helped the Reds to a much needed, morale boosting clean sheet that will in all likelihood, see them qualify for the quarter final.
For now, it's just a start. But after a turbulent beginning to his career in the Premier League, it's positive signs at last.
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