Thiago Alcântara made his long-awaited injury return in Liverpool’s 0-0 draw away to Newcastle United.
The Spaniard, who had been ruled out by a knee injury since October, made an impressive second-half cameo, but it was not enough to break down a stubborn Magpies side.
After spending so long on the sidelines after an all-too-short introduction to life on the pitch with Liverpool, Kopites will now be hoping to see the Spaniard in action on a more regular basis.
Thiago impresses on return
His introduction in the second-half gave an instant injection of creativity to the Liverpool midfield. Thiago looked far from a man who had not played a competitive fixture in over two months, nor a player who had just recently moved to the Premier League.
The stats gave an underlying feeling as to just how much the Spaniard changed the game. Although Thiago’s influence began to peter out at the end of the match – understandably due to a lack of match fitness – a midfield trio of Thiago, Henderson and Wijnaldum was enough to whet the appetite of Liverpool fans.
It was not just the fans who got excited, with Jürgen Klopp clearly in buoyant mood following the Spaniard’s return.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Klopp said: “We could see a lot of moments how good a footballer he is. Now we have to see how he reacts and all that stuff.”
One-time Liverpool striker Michael Owen could not hide his admiration for Thiago.Embed from Getty Images
Following the final whistle, Owen told Premier League productions: “It’s just the way he plays. It’s so exciting to watch. He is just different to so many players.
“He doesn’t need to say a word when he is on the pitch. His passes tell everything you need to know. When it’s coming to you, that ball is telling you there’s a man on or give it me back or run into the space.
“He actually plays the ball with the type of spin, with the type of pace, it’s just unbelievable.”
Thiago’s influence on the title race
For all the positives marked by Thiago’s return, Liverpool have only mustered one away win in their last seven. The Reds are now only three points ahead of their nearest rivals Manchester United who have a game in hand.
With the meeting in January now holding further significance, the reintroduction of Thiago could provide a pivotal weapon in the title race.
Provided he can stay fit, that is.
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