Jurgen Klopp has hinted at when Thiago Alcantara could make his long-awaited comeback from injury for Liverpool.
The 32-year-old hasn’t played for the Reds since the last week of April, having been sidelined ever since due to a long-term hip problem, with flickering appearances in training not yet leading to a matchday return.
Speaking in Friday morning’s press conference ahead of the trip to Luton Town on Sunday, the manager told fans not to expect the midfielder back for the rest of 2023, vowing not to put ‘pressure’ on him to rush back after such a long time out of action.
Klopp said (via Liverpool Echo): “Thiago is an ongoing thing. We cannot put any pressure there as well. We expect him to be back start of the New Year. Another four weeks, I would say that is realistic. I can’t wait to have him back. No week on week update.”
Anyone who’s seen Thiago play for Liverpool will testify to how magnificent a footballer he is, but sadly injuries have plagued him throughout his three-and-a-bit years at the club so far.
His absence for portions of last season was a big blow, considering that several other midfield options were also nursing fitness problems, but thankfully Klopp’s depth in that area of the pitch is now so much better.
It could even be argued that, as fantastic as the 32-year-old is, he might face a battle to win back his place, such is the Reds’ strength in that position now following the quadruple swoop for Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch, Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo.
Still, even if Thiago is only a sporadic starter once he returns in the New Year, his top-level experience could be invaluable to Liverpool, all the more so having lost two veteran campaigners in Jordan Henderson and James Milner over the summer.
His return will also provide a welcome boost to squad depth for the second half of the season, when hopefully we’ll be in the thick of a title race and making our way into the latter stages of the Europa League, along with the possibility of prolonged domestic cup runs.
We’d obviously have liked him back sooner, but to use the cliche, he’ll nearly feel like a new signing once he’s available again, and what a fillip it could be for the Reds.