Thiago Alcantara is not the first player to struggle to get to grips with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool midfield.
Many players at Liverpool have struggled under Klopp to take on board how the enigmatic German wants his midfielders to play.
But, the Spaniard’s signing indicated an evolving of the Liverpool team into one that has more possession of the football.
Thiago’s first game for Liverpool set a precedent for the way they wanted to play.
In his 45 minutes against Chelsea, Thiago completed more passes (75) than any Chelsea player managed in the full 90 minutes.
In comparison, the Blues’ top passer, Matteo Kovacic only managed 58 passes. (Source: Planet Football)
Richarlison’s challenge in the Merseyside derby halted Thiago’s bright start to his Liverpool career in its tracks.
Two months out of the team meant Thiago has been playing catch up ever since.
The Spaniard has returned to a team void of confidence and ravaged by injuries.
So we’ve looked at the cases of three Liverpool midfielders, that highlights the complexities of playing in midfield for Liverpool and how it can initially difficult to understand the role.
The Brazilian was brought into Liverpool within a week of Liverpool losing the 2018 Champions League Final in Kyiv.
Despite signing on July 1, Fabinho’s first Premier League start did not come until October 19 when the Red’s beat Huddersfield.
The Brazilian was left out of match day squads for games at the beginning of the season, as he struggled to acclimatise to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
A 1-1 draw away to Arsenal was Fabinho’s first big game for the Reds. Questions were asked of him.
Coming to terms with the intensity of playing in Klopp’s midfield was difficult for the Brazilian at the Emirates.
Despite initially struggling, Fabinho became a mainstay in the team from December onwards.
His performances in the defensive midfield role were key to Liverpool amassing 97 points in the Premier League.
In the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Semi-final, Fabinho bossed Barcelona around Anfield.
His defensive performance against Barcelona was immaculate, standing up to Messi and co. Offensively, he started attack after attack, quickly transitioning the ball to Liverpool’s forwards.
Fabinho’s performances in the Champions League helped the Reds to their sixth European Cup success in Madrid.
The case of Fabinho highlights the length of time it can take to adjust to the demands of Jurgen Klopp.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain struggled to break into the Liverpool midfield for his first six months at Anfield.
Despite the odd goal and good performance, adapting to Klopp’s midfield was hard toil for the Englishman.
The sale of Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona pushed Chamberlain into the starting XI.
Chamberlain helped push Liverpool to a Champions League final, adding goals and assists in a high energy midfield.
A ruptured ACL in the Champions League semi final halted Chamberlain’s progress in Liverpool’s midfield.
However, his case highlights the length of time it can take to get used to the demands of what the enigmatic German wants from his midfielders.
The skipper has not found it easy to stamp his authority on the Liverpool midfield.
Despite captaining the side to Champions League and Premier League success, it has not been plain sailing for the England midfielder.
In the 2018/19 season, Henderson found himself out of the team.
The Mackem had predominantly played in the defensive midfield position.
However, Fabinho had begun to cement himself in the defensive midfield role after Christmas.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Henderson had played as a more attacking midfielder, adding goals and assists.
Whereas under Klopp, he was initially deployed in the more defensive role of the team.
After a chat with Klopp, the German tested Henderson in a slightly more advanced role.
A role where his energy would add to Liverpool’s defensive pressing higher up the pitch, as well as adding assists and goals to the team.
From April 2019, Henderson cemented his place in Liverpool’s best XI.
Henderson drove Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 30 years, winning the Football Writers’ Association Men’s Footballer of the Year award.
The case of Henderson highlights that understanding the demands of playing in Klopp’s midfield can take time.
Thiago boasts incredible capabilities with the ball at his feet.
There is no doubt that he will be a success at Liverpool and evolve their game.
Many more of the Liverpool team that conquered Europe and England have struggled to get to grips with Jurgen’s instructions for his midfielders.
Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita are notable examples of players who have struggled at points in their Liverpool career, to nail their place on the team sheet.
The disrupted nature to the start of Thiago’s Liverpool career gives him a lot more time to get to grips with the Liverpool system.