EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool get huge midfield boost after five-month wait as transfer plans continue

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool get huge midfield boost after five-month wait as transfer plans continueThiago Alcantara is set to return to Liverpool training this week, handing a new-look midfield department with a huge boost ahead of transfer deadline day. CONTINUE READING>>>>>

Thiago Alcantara during the first day back for pre-season at AXA Training Centre
Thiago Alcantara during the first day back for pre-season at AXA Training Centre

While all the talk has been of rebuilding Liverpool’s midfield in recent months, there is one illustrious member of that department who has been conspicuous only by his absence.

As the most decorated member of the entire Reds squad, it feels strange to consider Thiago Alcantara as something of a forgotten man, but he is yet to be seen outside the confines of the club’s training ground during the opening month of the new Premier League season.

If Thiago and his ongoing recovery from surgery has led to him becoming the afterthought of a much-discussed midfield, his imminent return will at least provide the fervent debate with a new point of conversation.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich star is, Jurgen Klopp says, expected back in training this week, handing the Reds a sizable boost in the process. With Wataru Endo starting alongside fellow new signings Dominikl Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister at Newcastle, a new-look engine room was given its debut in less-than-ideal circumstances on Sunday afternoon.

Endo, whose international clearance only arrived hours before the 3-1 win against Bournemouth on August 19, was thrown head-first into the deep end at St James’ Park when he was tasked with thwarting the jet-heeled Newcastle attack alongside Mac Allister and Szoboszlai who, by comparison, looked like long-serving stalwarts given they have at least enjoyed the benefit of a full pre-season programme.

Teething problems should be expected then given the formative days of what is a department looking to emerge from the long shadow of an era dominated by names like Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and James Milner, which was a particularly trophy-laden period between 2019 and 2022.

Factor in the curious statistic that Endo has played 56 of 86 Liverpool minutes to date with a man less and it becomes even more obvious as to why there might still be one or two things to iron out for Klopp and his backroom staff in the centre of the park. The upcoming international break will give the manager the opportunity to do that in tactical and analysis meetings but before then, a visit from Aston Villa awaits on Sunday afternoon.

Whether Thiago is cleared for that one is yet to be known but a full return to training at the AXA Centre this week is at least a big step forward for a player whose last outing came in April.

The decision to end Thiago’s season early last term was taken in the hope that he would be ready to hit the ground running in time for the 23/24 campaign. As a result, he went under the knife in May and sat out the final six matches in total with his most recent appearance coming as a substitute in the 2-1 win at West Ham on April 26.

The influx of fresh blood has theoretically allowed Liverpool to be less reliant on a player who, for all his gifts, has never proven himself to be the most durable. However, with just three through the door in a summer that has seen as many as five leave – plus Arthur Melo return to Juventus – the feeling persists, to some at least, that the Reds remain at least one short of a full deck.

Long-standing interest in Ryan Gravenberch at Bayern Munich appears to back up those assertions but links to an out-and-out defensive midfielder have slowed down since the capture of Endo earlier this month. That could well suit Liverpool as they look to quietly assess the market inside the final few days of the window.

Suggestions that interest in a specialist enforcer has now evaporated following the addition of Endo could simply be a case of semantics given the Reds would likely want more from a big-money signing than ‘just’ water carrying and destroying but it will be fascinating to see what the recruitment department has up its sleeve in the last few days of a window that has become increasingly fraught and difficult to predict since the arrival of £60m Szoboszlai at the beginning of July.

With Thiago now well into the final year of his terms at Anfield, there has never been any real appetite to offload him this window and even less so now given the shock and sudden departures of Fabinho and Henderson.

Thiago, who was said to have turned down a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia earlier this summer, is considerably more valuable to Klopp for what he is able to contribute for the coming campaign than he would be if it was decided that the club should cash in on a 32-year-old in the last year of his contract. His quality and experience are beyond reproach and could yet act as a guiding hand for a relatively inexperienced set of midfielders looking to get the club back to where they feel they belong.

While no-one would label the return of Thiago as ‘like a new signing’ without irony, the comeback of such a unique performer will be a timely filip for Klopp, who will surely be under few illusions as to the incomplete nature of his squad, despite an impressive start to the new season. CONTINUE READING>>>>>

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