Indeed, Thiago Alcantara‘s performance in midfield against a Marcelo Bielsa side known for their relentless pressure was stunning to behold and surely the Spaniard‘s best since moving to the club from Bayern Munich in September 2020.
Regarded as one of the best midfielders in Europe during his time in Germany, the injury crisis at Anfield last season robbed the former Barcelona youngster of a coherent team to operate in, leading to some doubts as to whether he was the right signing for the club.
Against Leeds, however, it was he who brought control.
According to FBREF data, the 30-year-old completed 58 of his 61 attempted passes, boasting an impressive success rate of 95.1%. No player on the pitch could better that and, crucially, 7 of those were played into the final third, which also led the way in the overall match statistics.
Although Leeds’ ability to press their opposition has been widely praised since Bielsa’s appointment, 10 of Thiago’s passes were made when harried by the home side.
Arguably, one of the reasons the player isn’t always the most talked about on the pitch is because of his lack of goals and assist. Still, there is so much more to football than that, and his ability to pull strings from deeper positions is what can help make his teams so successful, as it did during Bayern’s Champions League triumph over Paris Saint-Germain in his final game.
He did, however, manage to tee up Sadio Mane for Liverpool’s third goal yesterday afternoon.
Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, pundit Jamie Redknapp waxed lyrical about the Spanish international.
“I thought he was fantastic,” he said.
“I listened to a lot of people last year talk about Thiago. When Liverpool go on a bad run, people say he slows the play up, he can’t handle the intensity, absolute garbage!
“This guy is one of the best technicians you will see in world football.
“Doesn’t matter what kind of pressure you put him under, he’s never panicked. He relaxes on the ball.
“He is incredible to watch and it did my head in last year listening to people who don’t understand the midfield role of how to keep the ball, what to do, where to be in the right position, how to show quality, how to set people up for chances.
“Because they’re always looking for a scapegoat, someone to say [about] ‘oh it’s their fault’.
“He is brilliant.”