Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara has faced some harsh criticism from varying sources this season, with the main sticking point being his clumsy tackling.
While it’s fair to say the Spaniard, signed for £27m last year, has clocked up a noticeable number of fouls, the No.6 clearly has been a livewire in the Reds’ midfield when he’s played – and it’s not gone unnoticed.
West Ham were well beaten by Liverpool two weeks ago and Declan Rice singled out Thiago as the man who ran the show in the 3-1 victory for the champions.
“When I played against Thiago the other day for Liverpool, obviously he is a holding midfielder, it was a big lesson because he ran the game,” the Hammers star told BBC 5 Live – as quoted by CaughtOffside.
“The ball was like on a string. It was like he dictated the tempo of the game and he has been there and done it.”
Given Thiago has received criticism for not playing at his typical ludicrously high level, which we have found to be somewhat unfair, pundits have been wondering what’s not going to plan.
To us, it doesn’t take a genius to work out the knock-on impacts of three senior centre-backs – including Virgil van Dijk – can be felt further up the pitch than just the back line.
Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been utilised in Liverpool’s defence of late, which has taken a lot away from the midfield, meaning players – including Thiago – have been forced to chip in with the responsibilities of an absent recognised holding midfielder for much of this season.