Do the Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool Rumours Make Any Sense?

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Thiago Alcantara has been linked with a move to Liverpool | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

If your response to Liverpool’s alleged move for Thiago is to believe it when you see it, then you’re probably approaching things the right way.

There’s a lot about it that smells fishy.

For one, the deal would require a pretty drastic break from strategy for the Reds recruitment team. Of all 20 first team signings made since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival in October 2015, only four have been over the age of 27 – three of those were backup goalkeepers and the other was short-term defensive cover Ragnar Klavan.

The average age of outfield signings in the same period is just under 26, with resale value down the line a central concern with virtually every major addition. Thiago turned 29 in April, meaning financial profit can likely be written off straight off the bat.

Then there’s his wages. Reports back in February claimed that he wanted to be Bayern Munich’s top earner, representing a pretty hefty hike from the estimated £200,000 per week he earns just now. Given that Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s top earner on around £200,000 at present – and he had to win the Golden Boot in his debut season to be offered those terms – the maths just don’t add up.

However, and there’s a big, bold however, there does seem to be more to it than your average passing transfer rumour. While you can never discount the possibility that the entire situation has been fabricated by a nefarious agent looking to fleece a few extra quid out of wherever he ends up next – be that Manchester United, PSG or still at Bayern – it’s Liverpool who seem to have caught fire.

Spanish outlet SPORT can hardly be taken at face value with their claims that the Reds are ‘very close’ to securing a deal, but the story has been given the time of day by Christian Falk – BILD’s main man – on more than one occasion.

It might seem doubtful that Liverpool will deem a deal financially sensible, even at the low end of the €35-50m price range, but stranger things have happened. If the Reds are to spring a surprise in the weeks ahead, then there are far worse options for whom to break their carefully crafted mould.

Thiago, after all, is a completely different option to any other midfielder on Liverpool’s books. Naby Keita is the most comparable in his creativity, while Georginio Wijnaldum can boast a similar ability to retain possession and wiggle out of tight spaces, but Thiago has it all in one package. He’s one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the world, and while the margins to improve the current Liverpool team are fine – they’ve dropped just ten league points from 96 available this term – he is one of the only realistic signings who could do that.

His arrival would almost certainly come at the expense of one other player, and that perhaps casts more doubt over his potential signing than any other factor. Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are settled starters, and with Adam Lallana leaving, the likes of Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones are all champing at the bit to step up and take on more first-team responsibility.

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Curtis Jones has been touted to step up next season | Visionhaus/Getty Images

It’s a hypothetical, almost dreamland scenario; but if the opportunity was there to send Keita out on loan to a non-competitor to rediscover his best form, while bringing in a player who would elevate the midfield to a new level in the short-term, that’s the type of ruthless decision-making that could be the difference in next season’s battle to stay on top of the game.

In addition to the winning mentality and pedigree that has been cultivated in the engine room of Bayern team who just claimed their eighth successive Bundesliga – something Liverpool could undoubtedly utilise in the fledgling years of their potential legacy – Thiago’s versatility brings with it enormous advantages.

In a fully-fit starting XI, it’s easy to envisage Thiago on the left of a midfield three, providing the creative spark alongside Fabinho and either Henderson or Wijnaldum, but over the years he has shown the intelligence to play further forward or even directly in front of the defence. He’s equally capable of dropping into Fabinho’s role, breaking up play and spraying out passes from between the lines, as he is of stepping into the No.10 in a 4-2-3-1 – something Klopp has experimented with in the past.

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Klopp may opt to change things up tactically | LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/Getty Images

There are other concerns, of course. Thiago’s injury record, and the fact he has been off the boil by his own standards this term, mean he isn’t the asset he was even 12 months ago. But while that raises another question mark, with his contract up in 2021, it could serve to give the Reds the high ground in negotiations over a deal that would be completely unviable under other circumstances.

There is a very, very small door left open for this to happen. It seems far more likely, at face value, that a move to PSG or Manchester United – both teams more willing to spend and more in need of improvements – will come to fruition, and there shouldn’t be too much disappointment at Anfield should either come to pass.

In the right circumstances, however, should the stars align themselves and the dominoes fall as planned, then this could – could – be another very good bit of Liverpool business.

For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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Jurgen Klopp Names His Two ‘Big Favourites’ for Summer Champions League

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Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are the reigning European champions | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has tipped either Manchester City or Bayern Munich to claim the Champions League trophy this season, with the Reds already out of the competition.

Klopp’s men will be on holiday as the Champions League’s last eight is concluded in Lisbon this August.

The Premier League champions were unable to achieve back-to-back European triumphs, having been knocked out of the competition by Atlético Madrid in the last 16, prior to the lockdown back in March.

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Diego Simeone’s side stunned Liverpool to progress to the quarter-final | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

In Liverpool’s absence, the former Borussia Dortmund manager believes that there are two sides most capable of capturing the trophy.

He said, via the Daily Mail: “I think for me the two big favourites left in the competition are Bayern and Man City. 

“That would be an interesting game… I don’t know exactly how it could happen, if they meet in the semi-final or final or whatever, but the competition [in August] will be really interesting. It will be really new. But when you see Manchester City, the squad there… yes [they have a] massive, massive chance.”

Riyad Mahrez, Daniel CarvajalRiyad Mahrez, Daniel Carvajal
Manchester City won 2-1 in their first leg tie against Real Madrid | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Klopp added that while both sides have exceptional players at their disposal, they will also need some luck in order to claim the title.

He continued: “They have so much quality but no team in the world is perfect. City is not, Bayern is not, we are not. But you need to be nearly perfect in precise moments to win the Champions League.

“Everybody needs luck and if you want to win the Champions League you should have your best line up ready for the final if possible, but I really think these two teams are the two favourites. I will watch it, the tournament.”

Liverpool Parade to Celebrate Winning UEFA Champions LeagueLiverpool Parade to Celebrate Winning UEFA Champions League
Liverpool won their sixth European Cup last season | Paul Cooper/Getty Images

Klopp and Liverpool are well aware of what it takes to win the Champions League, having defeated Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s showpiece, after having lost to Real Madrid in the final of 2018.

Bayern are looking for their first European title since 2013, while City are desperate to pick up their first ever major European honour.

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Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Bayern Munich: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lewandowski’s Brace Seals Domestic Double

Robert Lewandowski
Bayern celebrate another DFB Pokal Cup-final win | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski took his goal tally to 51 for the 2019/20 season with a second-half brace as Bayern Munich secured yet another domestic double.

Die Roten made a perfect start when David Alaba curled in a free-kick past Lukas Hradecky to give them the lead. And minutes later, they were two goals up, after Serge Gnabry drilled the ball into the net following Joshua Kimmich’s inch-perfect pass.

Leon Bailey had Leverkusen’s best chance of the half when he fired over from close range, and it was one of the few opportunities they had as they were completely shut out by Bayern in the first 45 minutes.

Despite Peter Bosz’s side playing with a greater intensity after the break, Lewandowski made Hradecky pay with a first-time shot that the goalkeeper somehow managed to bundle into his own goal. But their opponents refused to give up, and Sven Bender’s header gave them some hope that they could make an unlikely comeback.

Yet Bayern’s Polish figurehead netted his 51st goal not long afterwards, and despite Kai Havertz’s late penalty, it was not enough to stop Hans-Dieter Flick’s side from picking up a record 20th DFB-Pokal.

Key Talking Point

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Was this Havertz’ last game for Leverkusen? | ROBERT MICHAEL/Getty Images

Was this to be Kai Havertz’s final game for Leverkusen? The sought-after attacking midfielder has been linked to Chelsea, Real Madrid and also their final opponents – so there were many keen to watch his performance, including Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Unfortunately for his suitors, he couldn’t get himself into the game from the start. The 21-year-old was given little space and time to exert any influence, with his team completely nullified by Die Roten’s backline. It looked to be a frustrating outing for him as Peter Bosz’s side struggled to get out of their own half throughout the first period.

In the second period, he seemed much more involved, as his team came out with a greater intensity and energy in their attacks. With Kevin Volland taking on the centre-forward role, the German international was freed up to roam around the final third and increasingly became a threat for Leverkusen.

Havertz would eventually got his goal through a late penalty, netting with what may be his final kick for Bosz’s side as rumours around his future will continue to swirl in the summer.

Starting XI: Hradecky (6); L Bender (6), S Bender (7), Tapsoba (6), Wendell (5); Aránguiz (7), Baumgartlinger (6); Diaby (7), Amiri (6), Bailey (7); Havertz (6).

Substitutes: Volland (6), Demirbay (6), Bellarabi (6), Weiser (N/A).

While his team struggled at times, winger Leon Bailey was one of the few to shine, and gave Benjamin Pavard all sorts of problems on the left-wing.

The Jamaican had his side’s best chance in the first-half, and he was a constant threat as his team began to regain control after the break.

Key Talking Point

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Flick has been instrumental in Bayern’s domestic double | ROBERT MICHAEL/Getty Images

It’s been a remarkable season for Bayern, who have gone unbeaten in all competitions since December, and have manager Hans-Dieter Flick to thank for bringing them back to their best.

The 55-year-old has restored the huge attacking threat of this team, while also making them a difficult one to score against. On Saturday evening it was no different, with the midfield pair of Kimmich and Leon Goretzka untroubled in dictating the tempo of the game. The frightening pace of Alphonso Davies and Gnabry was on show once again, while David Alaba was as solid as ever in defence.

And up front, the sensational goalscoring of Lewandowski doesn’t hurt either, with the Pole’s second-half strikes illustrating just how potent and lethal he can continue to be for Die Roten.

It’s hard to see how the Bundesliga champions aren’t favourites for another title next season, and with Flick at the helm, they could arguably be considered Europe’s best side ahead of the Champions League’s restart in August.

Starting XI: Neuer (6); Pavard (6), Boateng (6), Alaba (7), Davies (7); Kimmich (8*), Goretzka (7); Gnabry (7), Müller (7), Coman (6); Lewandowski (8).

Substitutes: Periši? (6), Hernandez (6), Coutinho (N/A), Thiago (N/A).

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Kimmich was brilliant in Bayern’s midfield | ANNEGRET HILSE/Getty Images

Helping to dictate the game from midfield, Joshua Kimmich showed just why he’s considered one of the best central midfielders in the world with another superb display.

His defensive work was terrific in keeping Leverkusen quiet in the first-half, while his assist for Gnabry’s goal was inch-perfect, showing just what a talent Bayern have in the centre of the park.

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Thiago Drama Continues With Man Utd Links & Claims of ‘Agreed’ Liverpool Terms

German DFB Pokal"FC Schalke 04 v Bayern Munchen"
Thiago Alcantara has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United | ANP Sport/Getty Images

Manchester United could enter the race for wantaway Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago Alcantara, according to reports in Germany – while a prominent Italian journalist has claimed that personal terms have already been agreed with Liverpool.

Thiago has enjoyed a hugely successful career in Germany since signing from Barcelona in 2013, winning his seventh Bundesliga title in a row this season.

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Thiago Alcantara wants to leave Bayern Munich after seven successful yearss | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

The 29-year-old has just one year remaining on his contract and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently confirmed that the Spaniard wants to leave the club in the summer.

“We don’t want to lose him for free,” Rummenigge explained. “We negotiated seriously with him but it looks like he wants to try something new before the end of his career. We never had any contact with Liverpool. If he wants to go there, we will have to deal with it.”

Liverpool have been the club most heavily linked, but Bild reporter Christian Falk has now warned against ruling Manchester United out of the running. Responding to a Reds fan who asked where Thiago may end up this summer, Falk confirmed the Premier League champions’ interest but also said there were ‘rumours’ of Old Trafford being another possible destination.

Earlier this week, reports emerged claiming that the Liverpool were ‘very close’ to signing the player, though various outlets conflicted over how much he would cost. More conservative estimates priced Thiago at the €35m (£31.5m) mark, while others said that a fee in excess of €60m (£54m) would be required to prise him away from Bavaria.

The lower end of the price range is a figure being bounded about by Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri, and he’s even gone as far as to claim that personal terms are agreed between Liverpool and Thiago. He now expects a bid to be tabled in the next couple of days, with €30m up front and €5m in add-ons his stance.

With United potentially entering the fray, the Reds could have another player swiped from under their noses. Liverpool ave already lost out on long-term target Timo Werner to Chelsea recently, and Kai Havertz also seems unlikely to rock up at Anfield.

If Thiago does opt to join United he will likely be joined by fellow Bundesliga star Jadon Sancho. The Red Devils have been chasing the Borussia Dortmund man for some time and remain confident of securing his services.

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DFB Pokal Final: How Bayern Munich & Bayer Leverkusen Earned Spots in Season Finale

Thomas Mueller, Edmond Tapsoda
Edmond Tapsoba (R) and Thomas Muller (L) in action during Bayern’s 4-2 victory over Leverkusen in the Bundesliga last month | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Hold your horses, folks! German football hasn’t finished quite yet.

Although the title was all but wrapped up, as a result of Joshua Kimmich’s genius with seven matchdays remaining, the race for Champions League places and relegation dogfight between Fortuna Dusseldorf and Werder Bremen meant the recent conclusion to the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign was an enthralling one.

And now we’ve got a DFB-Pokal final to enjoy.

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Bayern celebrating their eighth consecutive Meisterschale | KAI PFAFFENBACH/Getty Images

Germany’s equivalent of the FA Cup draws to a close on Saturday night as Bayern Munich take on Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin.

The former are going in search of the second piece to a once unthinkable treble following Hansi Flick’s November arrival, while the latter – a club perceived as perennial underachievers or ‘bottlers’, to be blunt – will be vying for their first piece of silverware since 1993.

There’s set to be plenty on the line on Saturday night but first, let’s take a look at how both sides got here in the first place.

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Bayern’s DFB-Pokal journey began with Niko Kovac at the helm | TF-Images/Getty Images

Die Roten’s journey began amid the bleak Niko Kovac reign in Bavaria, as the Croat took his title-winners from the previous term to fourth-tier FC Energie Cottbus in the opening round last August.

Goals from Robert Lewandowski (shock), Kingsley Coman (actually a shock) and Leon Goretzka ensured Bayern waltzed past a potential banana skin in a 3-1 victory.

However, by the time the second round came about, the cracks in Kovac’s pragmatic regime were starting to evolve into chasms.

In the weeks leading up to the trip to 2. Bundesliga outfit VfL Bochum, Bayern had been beaten at home to Hoffenheim, drawn at Augsburg and snuck past the newly-promoted Union Berlin at the Allianz. Thus, it wasn’t too surprising to see Kovac’s side trailing to Die Unabsteigbaren with ten minutes remaining following Alphonso Davies’ comical first half own goal.

The visitors, however, struck late either side of Armel Bella Kotchap’s dismissal through Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller to avoid humiliation.

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Bayern held off Hoffenheim’s late resurgence to progress into the quarter-finals | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Now into the last 16, Bayern’s Hansi Flick ascension was well underway as they hosted Hoffenheim in early February.

And after a Robert Hubner own goal preceded strikes from Muller and Lewandowski to spare the blushes of Jerome Boateng – who’d turned the ball into his own net for the game’s opener – Bayern appeared to be well on their way to another emphatic victory.

Lewandowski would even score another with ten minutes to go but then the visitors’ resurgence entered the fray. Munas Dubbar bagged a late double for Die Kraichgauer to set up a tense finale in Bavaria, but Flick’s men held on in a seven-goal thriller.

Kimmich’s wonderfully taken half-volley was enough to past Schalke in the quarter-finals, before Bayern faced their trickiest test against Adi Hutter’s Eintracht Frankfurt in the semis.

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Ivan Perisic headed in the opener against Eintracht | Pool/Getty Images

Die Roten’s early superiority was rewarded with Ivan Perisic’s opener but Eintracht’s impressive display saw them earn a second-half equaliser through Danny da Costa. Lewandowski would soon score to winner to secure their progression into the final, but boy were they made to work hard for it.

Kai Havertz returned to his former club in the first roundKai Havertz returned to his former club in the first round
Kai Havertz returned to his former club in the first round | TF-Images/Getty Images

Like Bayern, Bayer’s journey started against lowly opposition. Kai Havertz’s former youth team and semi-pro outfit Alemannia Aachen were first on the agenda for Peter Bosz’s side and following strikes from Kevin Volland, Leon Bailey and Havertz, the visitors progressed into the second round via a 4-1 scoreline.

An uncharacteristically sound defensive display then saw Die Werkself squeeze past SC Paderborn – who finished bottom in the Bundesliga this term but often sprung a surprise or two – through Lucas Alario’s first-half strike. The Argentine was the beneficiary of VAR’s absence as replays showed the forward was marginally offside before crashing home.

The lengthy break between rounds meant that a rejuvenated Bayer outfit came out to play for their round of 16 clash at home to Stuttgart.

The second-tier unit made life tough for the confident hosts, mind, and it took an own goal from Stuttgart shot-stopper Fabian Bredlow to break the deadlock with just 20 minutes remaining. That man Alario later doubled the hosts’ advantage but Silas Wamangituka’s immediate reply meant Bayer were forced to hold on to a 2-1 victory.

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Moussa Diaby rounded off a swift counter to seal a 3-1 victory over Union Berlin in the quarter-finals | Jörg Schüler/Getty Images

Die Werkself then booked place in the last four after coming from behind to beat Union at the BayArena in early March. Marcus Invargtsen gave the visitors the lead just before the break, but Bayer were ruthless after Christopher Lenz’s second yellow card gifted them a numerical advantage.

Havertz set-up Karim Bellarabi to level, before Charles Aranguiz powered home from Kerem Demirbay’s corner and the superb Moussa Diaby rounded off a fine individual showing in stoppage time, finishing off a typically slick counter.

Fourth-tier FC Saarbrucken were the miracle of the 19/20 Pokal and Leverkusen’s surprise opponents in the semis. They had knocked out Bundesliga opposition in the form of Cologne and Fortuna to set-up a clash with Leverkusen but after Diaby and Alario had thrust the visitors into a quick 2-0 lead, Saarbrucken’s fairy tale looked poised to come to an end behind closed doors.

The hosts may have feared a thrashing but Leverkusen only scored once more, as Bellarabi blasted the ball into the roof of the net to hand Bosz’s side a 3-0 victory and a place in their first DFB-Pokal final since 2009.

Robert LewandowskiRobert Lewandowski
Hansi Flick has helped establish Bayern as one of the most potent outfits on the planet following his arrival last November | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern have been nothing short of imperious since Flick’s appointment and have rarely altered in style. Flick’s side have been all about spellbinding fluidity, pure speed, half-space penetration, a high defensive line and a suffocating intensity out of possession.

Bosz has a monumental task on his hands if he wants to slow down this ruthlessly-oiled machine but he did have some success in their recent 4-2 defeat to Die Roten without Kai Havertz.

Bayer’s press in a 3-4-3 shape disrupted Bayern’s build-up in the opening stages, while they were also able to bypass Flick’s press as the game wore on following a switch to a 4-2-3-1. The key for Bayer is to make the most of the likely rare moments they’ll have against Bayern in transition. They can certainly be got at with their ridiculously high defensive line and are particularly vulnerable down the right-hand side.

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Peter Bosz faces the tough task of masterminding an upset on Saturday night | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Creating overloads against the double pivot of Kimmich and Goretzka will be crucial in ball progression and this is where the superb space exploiter Havertz comes to the party. However, Bosz will have to be wary about his own high defensive line – they were woefully disorganised in the 4-2 defeat and were rightly exposed by an efficient Die Roten attack.

It’s safe to say it’ll come as just a bit of surprise if Leon Bailey lines up as a left wing-back in this one.

Overall, although Bayern are big favourites, there’s no doubting Bayer have the tools to pull off the upset on Saturday night – especially with Havertz at Bosz’s disposal this time around. Either way, this one’s set-up to be a corker.

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