Simon Hughes has questioned whether Liverpool’s summer signing Thiago Alcantara arrived at the club “a couple of years too late”, after mixed reviews of his maiden season on Merseyside.
The Spain international had endured, as the reporter pointed out, a difficult start to the campaign, being ruled out for 20 of the club’s opening fixtures before the turn of year (across all competitions) following a bout of COVID-19 followed by a knee injury.
“You’re hoping for Henderson to recover from his injury problems and you’re also hoping for Thiago to step up and deliver what he hasn’t been able to yet,” the Liverpool journalist spoke on The Athletic’s The Red Agenda podcast.
“I know we’ve spoken a million times that there are mitigating arguments for him in terms of the covid that he had, the injury that he had – been a very difficult season for him.
“But I do think there are question marks as well because he has sometimes struggled to keep up with the pace of the game.
“Looks like Liverpool may have signed a player a couple of years too late, sadly, potentially.
“But I do think he’ll get another season to prove himself and, with a full pre-season campaign resembling something like normality, you would hope he would start the season on the front foot rather than the back foot.
“Let’s not forget he joined Liverpool having had very little break after winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich.”
While the player is certainly open to criticism, it’s difficult to go over his performances with as fine a toothcomb as some of his fellow teammates considering all that has conspired to limit his impact this term.
With Fabinho being dragged back into the backline to help deputise for Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, the former Bayern Munich star had clearly been requested to adapt his game to make up for the loss of the Brazilian in the middle of the park.
As such, for good portions of the term, we alternatively have to question whether the Champions League-winner had many opportunities to fulfill the role he was purchased for.