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Thiago joins Liverpool

In the age of stats, it is easy to dismiss players because they don't have the required number of goals or assists or tackles or clean sheets, or whatever narrative you want to create.

A tweet went viral last week saying that since 2018-19, no Premier League player had made more errors leading to goals than Virgil van Dijk. Anyone who has never seen Van Dijk play would think a stat like that makes him the worst defender in the league. The stat is factually accurate, but paints only a small part of the picture. Some fans are similarly sceptical about Liverpool's newest signing, Thiago. Liverpool fans believe, quite rightly, that the 29-year-old midfielder is world class. Doubters point to his 150 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich where he scored 17 goals and assisted just 23 more. If he doesn't score or assist and isn't a defensive midfielder, how is he world class? Similar negativity sometimes surrounded David Silva at Manchester City. He was the master of assisting the assister, something which greatly annoyed Fantasy Football addicts. But despite that, he was clearly one of the league's best midfielders. Thiago will be similar at Liverpool. At Bayern Munich, he pulled the strings in midfield under every manager since Pep Guardiola. He broke up play, made crucial interceptions, and most importantly, almost always found him team-mates with his precise passing. He spots runs early, picks out players in space, and progresses the ball. He is the perfect number eight and will take Liverpool's midfield to another level. Fabinho took a while to adjust to Jurgen Klopp's style, but is now an integral part of the team at Anfield. Thiago will likely line up to the side of him, with one of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, or perhaps Gini Wijnaldum if he is not sold, on the other side. This will make the Premier League champions even stronger. Klopp has long been an admirer of the Spaniard's, calling Keita the Bundesliga's second-best midfielder after Thiago, when he signed Keita from RB Leipzig. Keita has still not fully gelled at Liverpool but often shows glimpses of why he was so highly rated. Thiago should not take the same time to integrate into his new team and can hit the ground running in the Premier League. Already a league and Champions League winner in Spain and Germany, now he has his sights set on titles in a third country. It would be madness to bet against him doing just that. Ronan Murphy


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