Thiago Alcantara has been on a run of good form for Liverpool of late and Jurgen Klopp took the opportunity to address those who were critical of the midfielder last season
Jurgen Klopp has hit back at critics of Thiago Alcantara and admitted he is thankful they are not the decision-makers at Liverpool.
Since arriving at Anfield, there have been suggestions that Thiago is not well-suited for Liverpool as he showed signs of struggling last season while a knee injury sidelined for three months at the beginning of his Reds career..
Former Reds star Dietmar Hamann was among those to criticise Thiago, suggesting he was the wrong type of player for Liverpool as he “slows things down”, while John Barnes offered similar views on the midfielder. Thiago was man of the match in Liverpool’s 4-0 thumping of Manchester United on Tuesday, though, leading boss Klopp to fire back at his critics.
Klopp said on Friday: “People were questioning if he suits our football? Thank God these people don’t make decisions. It is more important Thiago wanted to join us and he knew how we played. He is a real football person and thinks a lot about football. He knew how we played, and he knew he would fit in and we knew it as well.”
It was against Liverpool’s opponents on Sunday, Everton, that Thiago’s Reds career got off to a difficult start when he suffered an injury in only his first start for the club following a tackle from Richarlison which saw the Toffees’ forward sent off. Thiago eventually returned to the side midway through the season, by which time Liverpool were going through a dismal patch of form.
Despite his glittering playing career – having helped Bayern Munich to an illustrious treble only the season prior – Thiago was made one of the scapegoats for Liverpool’s struggles by sections of the Reds’ fanbase and their former players.
But Klopp added: “Thiago had only one problem, he was injured and it started with an Everton game, to be honest. That didn’t help. It was never a question if he would suit us. We only signed him because we knew he would help us.”
The 31-year-old has been a key figure in Liverpool’s season thus far as they continue to chase a quadruple, though Klopp was keen to play down any individual praise ahead of the Merseyside derby. “It is great (that Thiago is playing well) but I don’t like to talk too much about one player,” he said. “Not because he doesn’t deserve it but because always when I do something happens to the player when I leave this room and then I hear ‘Thiago feels a little bit here or there’. It was good, let’s carry on.”
As things stand, Liverpool are second in the league and sit just one point behind league leaders Manchester City, who host Watford on Saturday. Both sides have six Premier League fixtures each remaining, while both play in respective Champions League semi-finals next week.
With an FA Cup final also in the offing, Klopp admitted: “We love being in this situation. It’s incredibly tough – we play pretty much all the time. You cannot plan that you are still in everything. But we know there’s nothing we have achieved so far, or not a lot. We won one competition, that’s great, but there are three others to go.
“The boys are in a good moment but we have to prove it again on Sunday. We are looking forward to everything that’s coming up.”