Thiago Alcantara continues to improve for Liverpool despite enduring a difficult first season on English shores.
The 30-year-old midfielder signed from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich last summer, arriving at Anfield after picking up seven consecutive league titles during his time in Germany.
However, coronavirus and a serious knee injury hampered the Spain international’s start to life with the Reds, meaning he’d only made one Premier League start by January.
The last couple of months have represented quite the turnaround for the diminutive maestro, though. A string of impressive performances have seen Thiago earn an average WhoScored rating of 7.5 over his last five outings, outlining his importance to Liverpool’s eight-game unbeaten run in the league.
His display against West Bromwich Albion was arguably his best since arriving on Merseyside, with SofaScore grading him an 8.1, the highest-rated player on the pitch, despite Alisson’s remarkable, headed winner in injury time.
It was a frustrating afternoon for Jurgen Klopp’s men for large periods at the Hawthorns as Sam Allardyce’s side set out to frustrate their opponents, but Thiago’s vision and passing ability stood out amongst the exasperation of the former Premier League champions.
The ex-Barcelona academy graduate was the game’s key creating alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold, as the pair notched up five key passes apiece, more than anyone else on either side.
Compared to his season average of 1.3 key passes per game, Sunday’s exhibition further illustrated the improvements and dominance that has now started to become normal for the two-time Champions League winner.
A game-high 120 touches against the Baggies highlights how the playmaker was pulling all of Liverpool’s strings over the weekend, and with a 91% pass accuracy, it’s clear Thiago has mastered the perfect combination of risky penetrative passes and precise ball retention.
A severe injury crisis to Liverpool’s centre-back options forced holding midfielder Fabinho to fill in at the heart of the defence in the early stages of the season, often leaving Thiago exposed in the No.6 role.
But Ozan Kabak’s arrival in late January allowed the Spaniard to move forward as Fabinho returned to his natural role, and Klopp addressed how this change of position has brought the best out of his £25m purchase.
“So we decided to adapt his position a little bit – that worked out pretty well, it gives us stability, gives him stability, we can use his football skills which are obviously outstanding. Really good,” Klopp said.
The fight for the Champions League qualification places is set to go right down to the wire, and if Liverpool want to return to Europe’s elite cup competition next season, they’ll need Thiago to maintain this outstanding run of recent form.