LONDON • Liverpool have reached an agreement to sign Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, the German club’s chief executive officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said yesterday.
It is understood the Reds would pay an initial fee of £20 million (S$35 million) for the player, who has one year remaining on his contract at Bayern, with £5 million to follow in add-ons. He is set to sign a four-year deal at Anfield. The 29-year-old missed Bayern’s training session yesterday, according to reports in Germany.
Rummenigge told German daily Bild yesterday: “I can confirm that Bayern has finally reached an agreement with Liverpool. It was Thiago’s great wish to do something new again at the end of his career.”
Bayern coach Hansi Flick added: “Thiago was an exceptional player for seven years for Bayern Munich.
“The way he played he gave many options to the team, he was a surprising player because he solved problems in ways people did not expect…
“I congratulate (Liverpool coach Jurgen) Klopp. He gets a top player and a sensational person.”
Having come through Barcelona’s youth system and made 100 appearances for the senior side, Thiago moved to Bayern in 2013 when the German club appointed Pep Guardiola, becoming a vital cog in central midfield.
The Spain international played in last season’s Champions League final victory over Paris Saint-Germain. That was the 16th trophy he won with the Bavarian giants.
It had been reported a potential move for Thiago was being held up by uncertainty over the future of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutchman, who is in the final year of his contract at Anfield, has been linked with Barcelona.
Liverpool, however, have decided to make their move for Thiago now. He would be the club’s second signing of the summer transfer window and a more significant acquisition than that of Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas, who will provide cover for Andy Robertson.
Thiago would likely play a key role in midfield for Klopp.
League titles won by Thiago Alcantara with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
As reported by Sky Sports, he averaged 82.6 completed passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga last season – the most of any midfielder. He also had a pass completion rate in excess of 90 per cent – with both feet.
Liverpool’s build-up play starts from the centre of defence to the full-backs, who will then raid forward to link up with the attackers.
The role of their midfielders, in turn, is to cover those advances, recycle possession and prevent a counter-attack.
The team, however, are lacking a midfield maestro who can take full control in the middle of the park.
Thiago, who won two La Liga titles with Barcelona, is a player who can keep possession and distribute the ball well. He could help Liverpool by moving the ball around and open up games against defences who sit back.
When the Reds are unable to find a breakthrough with their wide approach due to opponents’ tight defences, he would be one to pick passes that other Liverpool midfielders are less likely to do so.
When asked about a potential move for Thiago last week, Klopp said: “Did I mention that Thiago Alcantara is a really good player? Long time ago. It is nice that we are linked with him… it is because he is a good player and Liverpool is a big club, so that is nice.”
Following yesterday’s news, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, now a pundit for Sky, also believes that Thiago could add another dimension to Klopp’s midfield.
He said: “Liverpool have got five or six midfield players – they rotate well because they need energy in that position – but a lot of the players are pretty similar.
“Thiago would be something different – less in energy but more technical – and I think he would be a really good addition.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS