Is Thiago really Klopp’s most disappointing midfielder?

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Thiago hasn’t been Jurgen Klopp’s most disappointing midfielder. Sorry Tony, but using assists to judge creativity just isn’t for me.

Ref. Tony Evans Column – Thiago is Klopp’s Most Disappointing Midfielder

I do, however, think our use of the Spanish playmaker has been one of the most disappointing things of the Klopp era at Anfield and it is because of this that I would entertain parting ways with the 32-year-old this summer.

His first season with the club was the 2020/21 campaign. A rogue Richarlison challenge sidelined him for 17 matches and then he returned to a team in chaos. His first appearance back after the knee injury was in the 0-0 draw with Newcastle United in December 2020. Liverpool had Fabinho and Nat Phillips at centre-back having lost Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip to long-term injuries.

For a period of time after that, Klopp used Fabinho and Jordan Henderson as his centre-back pairing before eventually opting to trust Phillips and Rhys Williams. The defensive woes put extra pressure on the midfield and instead of dictating play, Thiago was forced into doing a lot of running to help put out fires.

It was a necessary evil at the time with Liverpool in survival mode. Towards the end of that campaign, the Reds were able to put together a string of positive results, including a 10-match unbeaten run to claim a third-place finish. Thiago was instrumental in that period. It wasn’t the debut season for the Spaniard many had expected but it was a freak campaign.

With the team being able to field a strong XI most weeks last year, we finally got to see what the plan was when he was signed. He was the controller in midfield, forming a double pivot alongside Fabinho when the Reds had possession. He eased the burden on Van Dijk and the full-backs in the first phase of play and Liverpool came within two positive results of a historic quadruple.

This season has been just as painful as the 2020/21 campaign. The left-sided centre-midfield role was tweaked again to involve more off-the-ball work – something that, on paper, didn’t play to Thiago’s strengths. We’ve not exactly been able to see it in action either given he hobbled off against Fulham in the opening match of the season to return a month later.

The new system exposed Thiago’s lack of pace. He’s never been someone who can dominate large spaces without the ball and yet the role he was being utilised in almost required him to be a box-to-box midfielder. It was asking for trouble and that is exactly what happened in the disappointing results against Brighton, Leeds, Brentford, and Wolves.

Thiago was being asked to do more without the ball than he was with it. A complete waste of his talent. But because of this, he was the only one to retain his place in the XI following a midfield rejig which saw Fabinho and Jordan Henderson dropped.

He then missed most of February and all of March before making a couple of cameo appearances in April, only to pick up another knock ahead of the game against Spurs.

Per Transfermarkt, he’s missed a total of 57 matches since joining the Reds in September 2020.

Liverpool wouldn’t exactly be able to top up their summer budget if they did sell Thiago. He wouldn’t exactly fetch a big fee given his age and injury record. It would free up a fairly hefty chunk of the wage bill though given he reportedly earns over £200,000 per week. This decision wouldn’t be a financial one though.

According to multiple outlets, the Reds are planning a midfield rebuild this summer. A rebuild requires solid foundations otherwise there will always be a risk that what you’ve built crumbles.

As brilliant as Thiago is, he’s not exactly reliable, is he? While he remains at the club, Liverpool will forever be reluctant to bring in another midfielder capable of playing his role. Given he’s missed so much football, he isn’t going to be content with a place on the bench when he’s fit either.

The 2021/22 campaign was what could be done when Thiago as the hub of a team with momentum and luck on their side. Unfortunately for the Reds, that is the outlier over a three-season period.

Liverpool should’ve used a player of his quality much better. They should’ve managed his minutes and ensured they could maximise his short stint with the club to its fullest potential. They didn’t and haven’t. So with a rebuild in mind, perhaps it is time to start afresh. For his sake.

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