Editor’s Column: Should Liverpool cash in on Thiago?

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I know he hasn’t achieved what the likes of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah have for Liverpool, but in some ways, Thiago is my favourite player of the Jurgen Klopp era.

He joined after we won the Champions League and Premier League, and despite a fantastic season in the middle of his three for Liverpool in which we nearly won the quadruple, he’s largely had to play in underperforming sides in 2020/21 and 2022/23.

He’s also been very injured and therefore very frustrating. You can’t rely on Thiago. He doesn’t play enough games and even when he’s in a good run of form, the next injury is just around the corner.

But there’s something about the way he controls a football and shimmies past an opponent that makes him so easy on the eye it makes you chuckle. He makes other professional footballers look clumsy; he’s that composed technically.

I remember an FA Cup tie against Aston Villa during his first season. Villa were playing their kids but took the lead, before Liverpool ended up 4-1 winners in front of no supporters. Watching the highlights back is so grim. As if we endured football with no fans for so long?

Anyway, there has never been a more literal and figurative interpretation of ‘Men against Boys’ than Thiago against these youngsters. He only played a 30 minute cameo, but it was like he was playing a different sport to his team-mates and the opposition. The Spaniard had just come back from his first long injury at this point, but the manner in which he took the piss with everything he did whet the appetite. Months earlier of course, Richarlison had recklessly scythed Thiago at the end of the Merseyside Derby that also saw Virgil van Dijk brutally fouled and injured. Who knows how the course of football history would have differed over the past few years if we’d simply won that game without any issues? We held on until Christmas without van Dijk, but then the wheels fell off and Thiago was often named a scapegoat despite being easily our best midfielder for the remainder of the campaign.

Another brilliant performance comes to mind. Liverpool battered Manchester United 4-0 in the 2021/22 season and Thiago’s highlight reel from that wonderful Anfield night is the kind of stuff you should one day show your kids to explain how good this lad was. Watch it below. Honestly, it’s genuinely soothing. Look how many times he breaks the lines with passes nobody else would even see. Look at the way he turns into space when there seemingly isn’t any as United midfielders press him.

Imagine if Liverpool had THIS Thiago fit and firing week in, week out. He’d be regarded as our best player. There’s still a strong argument to say that nobody else is more talented than Thiago, fitness problems aside.

But the sad reality is we cannot discount Thiago’s body and his age. At 32, he’s not going to get any faster, stronger, or most importantly, any more available.

There is reportedly an offer on the table from Saudi Arabia. So what do Liverpool do?

He’s got one year left on his contract which includes very hefty wages. He’s one of our highest-paid players and in terms of overall money to minutes, he probably isn’t worth what we’re paying him.

Liverpool messed up by allowing Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to leave for free when we should’ve cashed in on both a few seasons back and brought in better replacement options with the transfer fees. Instead, we let them run down their deals and leave for free. That’s not smart, considering neither contributed anything in their final season.

Thiago though is a better player than both and there are other considerations on the table. We have signed younger midfielders in Alexis Mac Allister and Dom Szoboszlai, so perhaps keeping around a legend with multiple Champions League medals for them to learn from would help our transition. He has also just finished his surgery for his latest injury and will have a full pre-season, which will hopefully help him hit the ground running in 2023/24. There’s also the thought that Thiago is quite simply a brilliant footballer, and letting him leave now would weaken us.

But when a Saudi club is offering £30-40m to take him off our hands and provide the financial possibility for us to reinvest in a younger, more available, long-term option, the club might see this as the smart play. Obviously, Thiago might not choose to take the money like Roberto Firmino and Steven Gerrard did, but the evidence so far suggests everyone has a price – regardless of the ethical concerns of selling your trade to the Saudis.

I think Liverpool would probably like to cash in, truth be told. Thiago doesn’t fit naturally into our new formation, in which a properly defensive anchorman plays next to Trent Alexander-Arnold in the pivot and two ball-carriers play in advanced roles on the left and right of the box. The most natural spot would be the one next to Trent, but he struggles with recovery pace and isn’t big enough to be a physical presence in this spot.

While Liverpool would take the money in my opinion, Thiago might just want one more year to prove himself. He can leave on a free for the money next summer, so for him, there’s no rush.

Personally, I’m torn. But I’d quite like to see Thiago live at Anfield again so if he sticks around, I’m happy.

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  1. Yes. He’ll leave for free next year. £250k a week wages off the wage bill for an injury prone veteran. Get a fee from the Saudis. Win:Win for everyone.

  2. I think we should keep him just to show the youngers that he is good exempt for injuries?

  3. Get rid of him asap and bring in another midfielder and central defender with cash from Saudis.

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