DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 1

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DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool… but who makes way at Anfield?

Let’s start with the player. Thiago Alcantara to Anfield has been the transfer about which Liverpool supporters have spent all summer dreaming.

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 2

The reason is clear. Thiago is one of those rare midfielders who makes the kind of passes that others do not see; they roll inch-perfectly, like a crown green bowl trundling towards a Jack, always on target and always with enough the right amount of weight.

He plays football with style and grace and it is no wonder he reached the top. His father, Mazinho, played for Brazil at the 1994 World Cup; his brother, Rafinha, plays for Barcelona, the club who launched his career. Football isn’t just a profession for this family, it is a way of life.

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 3

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 4

Thiago studies it relentlessly. Mazinho was his idol, ‘his everything’. His favourite player growing up was Ronaldinho. When he was at La Masia, Barcelona’s Academy, Thiago would watch Xavi and Andres Iniesta over and over and see how they mastered the ball.

‘I absolutely love football,’ he told Sportsmail in December 2015. ‘I can get as much enjoyment watching a game between two third division teams as I do watching a Champions League final. You watch Xavi and the things that he does. The passes that Xabi Alonso makes.

‘Iniesta? Look at how he gets the ball and how it never leaves his foot when he is running with it. This is what they do. I have tried to take something from everyone. You want to be better at the things you cannot do so well. You eat, you sleep, you think about football.

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 5

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 6

‘From my own character, I want the responsibility everyone gives me. I was created in Barcelona and every midfielder has to touch the ball. You develop your own skills but the one thing you have to do is move the ball. You get on the ball as much as possible and you make the team play.’

With his mentality and his talent, Thiago will fit seamlessly into Liverpool’s dressing room. Good players want to play with other good players and when it emerged on Thursday that a £25million deal had been agreed with Bayern Munich, there was a crackle of excitement amongst the group.

It’s important for clubs to keep refreshing and there is no question Thiago will be a welcome addition to a team that wants to retain its title. Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will all benefit from his presence.

But now let’s look at the conundrum: who misses out? Liverpool have not spent this kind of money for Thiago to play every now and again; a man with seven Bundesliga titles and a Champions League in his locker, in his peak years, is not coming to make up the numbers.

So how is Jurgen Klopp going to make it work? Thiago has been given the No 6 shirt, so will that be his position? If so, that means Fabinho – such a powerhouse in the last two years – finds himself in the spotlight.

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 7

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 8

If a position as the team’s anchor is not on the cards, does he play to the side of Fabinho? If so, that means Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum are under scrutiny. But does Thiago offer the physicality and drive of those mainstays? The answer would be no.

Go a little deeper again, beyond Klopp’s first choice triumvirate. How do Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Curtis Jones feel? Another body means less game time and it would be wrong to assume that Wijnaldum, with nine months remaining on his deal, will make way.

There should be excitement amongst supporters, who have craved a big name addition. This is a transfer that also offers outstanding value as you would be talking about a price closer to £50m had Thiago’s contract had two years or more to run.

He has always wanted to play in England; he ignored repeated attempts from David de Gea, his compatriot, to move to Old Trafford in 2013 but Thiago always felt there would be a point in the future when the moment was right.

This is the moment. For it to truly succeed, Klopp must devise a plan to maintain the equilibrium without damaging the potency of his team. How he achieves that will make for fascinating viewing.

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 9

DOMINIC KING: Thiago is the perfect fit for Liverpool... but who makes way at Anfield? 10

 

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