Jürgen Klopp expects Liverpool will soon see the best of ‘world-class’ Thiago

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Thiago Alcântara marks his one-year anniversary as a Liverpool player on Saturday with Jürgen Klopp insisting there is more to come from a player with the chipping ability of “a world-class golfer”.

The Spain international has yet to firmly establish himself in Liverpool’s midfield since his much-anticipated £20m arrival from Bayern Munich, although gave a demonstration of his class in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Leeds. Thiago missed two months of his debut Liverpool season with a knee injury suffered at Everton, his first start for the club, and began this campaign with a minor problem carried over from Euro 2020.

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But Klopp expects the 30-year-old to demonstrate his value consistently with interruptions behind him. “The start was not perfect because he got Covid and got injured early,” the manager said. “That makes everything a little more difficult. He showed what kind of a player he can and will be for us, so there is much more to come.

“It is now a year, but really it is actually only half a year because of all the things that happened; coming into a new club in the most difficult period of all our lives. He settled really well. His family is here and he is in the middle of the team and a really good character and personality, and obviously a world-class player.”

Despite Thiago’s technical ability and experience, Klopp admits the former Barcelona and Bayern player has needed time to adapt to the demands that he places on a Liverpool midfielder.

“All the technical stuff is easy for him but he has to and has had to adapt to the way we defend,” he said. “More often we play using a slightly more offensive player as one of the double six than Bayern Munich. You have to be more offensive and defensive as one of our double six. You have to play between the lines. You can drop to the last line to receive the ball, but not always. We want him to play his natural football and there are just a couple of things he has to adapt for how we play. He did that.

“He is a playmaker, obviously, who can sometimes be a little deeper, but he must be there in the two ‘interesting’ lines of the opponent as well. In a closed area with his passing he is really good, and he can chip balls into each area like a world-class golfer. He does that without even thinking. I love the way he plays. It’s a complex position to be the number eight for us.”

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