Transfer Talk: Thiago Alcantara would give Liverpool midfield a creative spark, says Melissa Reddy

Georginio Wijnaldum's links to Barcelona and what else Liverpool might need are also analysed as The Independent’s Melissa Reddy joins Pete Graves and Dharmesh Sheth on the latest Transfer Talk podcast

Thiago Alcantara tries to get Bayern Munich on the front foot in the final
Image: Thiago Alcantara has been linked with Liverpool, but what would he bring to the team?

Thiago Alcantara would give the Liverpool midfield a creative spark, Melissa Reddy told the latest Transfer Talk podcast as she makes the case for his signing.

The Bayern Munich midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield after shining for the Bundesliga club in another successful season and is expected to move this summer.

But does Jurgen Klopp need another body in midfield? Reddy, senior football correspondent for The Independent, believes Thiago offers something different to the current options but admits a space would need to open up for him.

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She told the Transfer Talk podcast: "Part of the job when you are at the top is to stay there and one of the ways to do that is to make sure you're evolving, reinventing yourself in certain respects while staying true to the fundamentals that got you to the pinnacle in the first place - and Thiago would do that. He is the anthesis of everything they have at the moment, which I think is the entire point.

"He's so progressive on the ball, pressure resistant and against deep defences especially, he would open them, with his incredible range of passing with both feet. While it's true that Liverpool largely funnel all their play through their full-backs, who are the creative heartbeat of the side, they know that clubs are trying to deny them that avenue. They're working really hard to put pressure on the full-backs to funnel all their play inside.

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"Liverpool's midfield is incredibly industrious, tactically astute and their job really is to cover the areas when the full-backs go and are left vacant to make sure they're offering protection, but if you can have somebody in the midfield as well who can function in that creative capacity, it makes sense to do it.

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"Thiago is an incredible thinker of the game as well, when he talks about the art of passing. He was schooled at two clubs [Barcelona and Bayern] where the pressure and expectation is so much, so moving to a club where that's also the case wouldn't really hamper him too much.

Thiago Alcantara would love to join Liverpool 1:47
Here's a look at some of the long-range passing skills Liverpool fans could enjoy if Thiago were to join the club

"But in essence, when you look at Liverpool's midfield, they're already struggling to give everyone a fair crack at appearances and it is their most well-stocked area. For Jurgen, the biggest thing is squad harmony. He thinks a big reason they are where they are is, yes the evolution of the team and being able to win in different ways, but that's possible because of the squad harmony, the way the group get along and he's very conscious of keeping that, adding to the group but not destabilising that harmony.

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"Interestingly with Thiago, Georginio Wijnaldum is in the exact same position in terms of having a year left on his contract to run and Barcelona under Ronald Koeman want Wijanldum. There has been no secret of that.

"I don't think it is impossible to imagine a scenario where Barcelona move for Wijanldum, freeing up Liverpool to move for Thiago or if both clubs think 'the window ends in October, that's not too far from January' where a pre-contract can be agreed and both clubs go down that route. At the moment, Liverpool are comfortable, patient and relaxed to see what happens.

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara 1:07
Jamie Redknapp believes Thiago would add a different dimension to Liverpool's midfield if he was to join from Bayern Munich

"When you speak to the club, they say he's a spectacular player, the club likes him a lot but look at the places in midfield, they have to try and keep everyone happy. If a vacancy opens up, I'm sure they'll go for Thiago. I know there is a lot of anxiety among the fanbase as the club have done so little but there's a long way to go in the window still."

Sheth: Wijnaldum has interesting decision to make

Ronald Koeman and Gini Wijnaldum
Image: Ronald Koeman and Gini Wijnaldum already know each other well

Another transfer eye is being kept on Wijnaldum, with new Barcelona boss Koeman - who coached the midfielder with the Netherlands - wanting him to play pivotal role in his rebuilding project at the Nou Camp.

But with plenty of turmoil at Barcelona in recent weeks, Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth says Wijnaldum must be wary of the upcoming elections at the club.

He told the Transfer Talk podcast: "Obviously there is a match with the connections to the Dutch squad, but one thing I think Wijnaldum would have to think about, if he was to go to Barcelona, is those presidential elections.

Wijnaldum

"If he is joining because Koeman is there, there's no guarantee the manager will be there for the entire season. If (Josep Maria) Bartomeu loses those presidential elections and Victor Font is the favourite to win, Xavi is straight in and Koeman's out. Where does that then leave Wijanldum? Unless Xavi likes him.

"It's a real interesting decision that Wijnaldum will have to make and Liverpool as well because there's nothing stopping Wijnaldum saying 'I'm happy here, if you're not going to give me a new contract, I'll assess my options next summer when I can go for free'."

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Reddy added: "I don't think Liverpool would mind losing Wijnaldum on a free if that's the case, we've seen it before. They will think for the outlay they've spent on him to get him from Newcastle and for what he's delivered to the club in terms of tactical dexterity, he's played pretty much everywhere apart from in goal for Liverpool.

"They've secured trophies with him and he's been part of the senior players committee so a real leader in the dressing room. I think they say 'he's given us great service, it doesn't matter if we don't get a transfer fee for him'."

What else do Liverpool need?

r 2:25
Senior football writer Melissa Ruddy explains Liverpool's long-term transfer plan under Jurgen Klopp

There are a few potential transfers bubbling under the surface this summer, but Reddy believes Liverpool's transfer plans are also focused on the long term.

She said: "I know one of the key directives for Liverpool and their recruitment staff, they don't want a squad who has aged together. Development and shared experiences is important, but they don't want to find themselves in the same situation that Barcelona are in, for example, where you're leaving yourself with your whole spine to replace with nothing coming through and no advancement.

"So getting that balance right of having those players who have been so pivotal to their silverware haul while also thinking of the future, that's very big for them.

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Harvey Elliott scores as Liverpool come from behind to beat Blackpool 7-2 in a pre-season friendly. (Pictures from LFCTV. Full match highlights available on LFCTV)

"The club have a lot of exciting young talent coming through, of which Harvey Elliott is probably the biggest. So it's making sure those youngsters are so well immersed in the culture and the demands that they can step up while also looking at the market, finding the next Sadio Mane, the next Mohamed Salah and they're already working on that.

"What is also huge for Liverpool is the front three. Given their ages, if one of them wants to look for a new challenge, Liverpool will wish them well, and get big fees for them because none of them have release clauses in their contracts, and will be very confident of replacing them.

Jurgen Klopp admits he did not use Philippe Coutinho in his preferred position behind the striker as much as he could have.
Image: Liverpool successfully reinvested the money they received for Philippe Coutinho

"If we look at the Philippe Coutinho example, they let him go when he was Liverpool's talisman and their best player. He went for £142m and they took that money, reinvested it in Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho and they've gone and won trophies.

"I think there will be a lot of confidence that if any of their big hitters do walk out, eventually, that they're fully capable of replacing them."

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