Liverpool told which player they ‘have to build around’ next season despite links away from Anfield

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Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones, Liverpool, February 2021 Credit: Alamy
Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones, Liverpool, February 2021 Credit: Alamy

Frank McAvennie thinks Liverpool “have got to build their team” around Thiago Alcantara next season due to the fact he’s the most established player in the midfield.

The Reds’ midfield might well have a different look to it next season. James Milner is moving on to Brighton, Arthur Melo – who has hardly played – will return to Juventus, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita are likely to depart at the end of the campaign.

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A few signings in the centre of the park have been mooted. It’s been suggested their ‘main targets’ in the midfield are Alexis Mac Allister and Declan Rice.

Following talks with both Brighton and West Ham United, the situation regarding moves for both players is said to be ‘evolving’, as per Rudy Galetti.

Other central players have been linked with moves to Anfield. But while there could be a new-look midfield, McAvennie believes a man in the Reds’ current squad – Thiago – should be the focal point.

“I tell you what, he is going to be the talisman,” he told Football Insider.

“They have got to build their team around him next year because they have not got [Jude] Bellingham.

Jordan Henderson is going to be like Milner now I would think. They need to get young players in that midfield.”

Indeed, Bellingham might have taken a senior role immediately had he joined. While he’s only 19, he’s captained Borussia Dortmund, and has the maturity and class to be a leader and a star man.

However, Liverpool dropped their interest in the Englishman, deciding a rebuild of a few positions took precedence.

McAvennie feels that the resources in the Liverpool midfield, without the signing of Bellingham, mean Thiago is the right man to be the central figure.

“[Harvey] Elliott is not ready for the Premier League yet, he will be a great player but Liverpool need an established player right now. Thiago is that guy but they have got to get players around about him,” he added.

“Get him fit to start pre-season and get him on the park because he is the guy that can control games. He is the one guy I would build my team around, as a centre-forward I would love to have him in the midfield. I think he is a wonderful player.”

There are a few reasons why Thiago might not be the right man to be built around. Firstly, he’s 32 years of age, and while some players do thrive in their 30s, there’s no guarantee he will.

His injury history is also a concern as he gets older. He’s missed out for somewhat lengthy periods on a few occasions during his time at Liverpool.

That’s been no different this season, with the Spaniard managing just 14 league starts as a result of an injury. Furthermore, Thiago has been linked with a move away, with Klopp apparently ready to call time due to those injuries.

As such, Liverpool might be better served looking to one of their younger players, or signing a star who they feel will be a valuable asset for years.

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