Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool may soon unleash a Thiago throwback as he seeks a different Gini Wijnaldum fix.

Gini Wijnaldum
Gini Wijnaldum

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp just gave fans a glimpse of a potential Thiago Alcântara role change reminiscent of Gini Wijnaldum’s time at Anfield

Thiago Alcântara of Liverpool has been out for three weeks after returning from a hip injury, but he has yet to reclaim his starting spot.

Jürgen Klopp
Jürgen Klopp

Instead, Jürgen Klopp has used Curtis Jones as an inform in the left-sided number eight position, giving him the joint-longest run of starts in his Anfield career.

Thiago came off the bench to play the final 30 minutes of Chelsea’s 2-1 win over West Ham in midweek, but he replaced skipper Jordan Henderson rather than Jones.

Given that Liverpool spent the final quarter of the game defending its narrow lead and trying to score on the counter, it was difficult to draw too many conclusions, but it was an intriguing throwback.

When Thiago joined Liverpool at the start of the 2020/21 season, he started three of his first four games as a defensive midfielder.

Jamie Carragher Jurgen Klopp
Jamie Carragher Jurgen Klopp_11zon

However, for a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, Klopp moved him to the right-sided number eight position, where he would remain for 13 games.

Within the German system, the right-sided central midfielder is typically given more attacking license, while the left central midfielder is expected to primarily support Fabinho defensively.

This is reflected in the statistics. Consider Thiago’s touch locations and creativity at right center midfield (in the second half of 20/21) versus left center midfield (this season).

When Thiago plays on the right, he pushes further up the field and creates significantly more shooting opportunities for his teammates.

We don’t know if his cameo at right center midfield against West Ham will be a one-off or if he’ll be used there frequently over the course of the season.


However, history shows that a shake-up can bring benefits.

After a difficult start to his Liverpool career, Thiago was one of the club’s best players in the second half of 20/21, playing a key role in the club’s successful late push for a top-four finish. He thrived in a more senior role.

That year, Klopp could have used a specialist like Gini Wijnaldum to pick up the defensive slack, but thankfully, Jones won’t have to try to imitate the Dutchman if Thiago plays on the right.

That’s because Liverpool now has Trent Alexander-Arnold inverting into a midfield role when the team has possession, providing extra cover — in a way, the new Wijnaldum, freeing up those around him to be more creative.


Henderson’s attacking output has already increased significantly as a result, and Thiago would almost certainly outperform his 20/21 numbers as well. Given his vision and incisive passing ability, he may be able to make a bigger difference in the final third than the captain.

After a somewhat underwhelming performance from Henderson at the London Stadium, Klopp has given Liverpool fans an exciting glimpse of a potential template for the rest of the season, and we’ll see whether he employs it in Sunday’s game against Spurs.


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