Criticism of Liverpool star Thiago Alcantara is “very harsh” says John Aldridge, with the former Reds striker saying it is too early to pass judgement on the midfielder.
A man snapped up from German giants Bayern Munich during the summer of 2020 has not enjoyed the best of starts to his time in England. Having contracted Covid-19, the Spain international then picked up a knock during the Merseyside derby with Everton in October.
He had been playing his way into form at that stage with some impressive cameos, but progress was stunted as the 29-year-old playmaker was forced onto the sidelines.
- Man Utd misery: Fernandes penalty failure and defensive injuries pile early-season pressure on Solskjaer
- Man City masterclass: Guardiola finally finds a way to take down Tuchel's Chelsea
- Why Brentford are the Premier League's most innovative and unique club
- Inside Griezmann's Atletico Madrid nightmare - no goals, no assists, no shots on target
A return to action has been made over recent weeks, but Liverpool have been struggling as a collective and Thiago has figured in three Premier League contests that have delivered no wins and just two points.
Questions are being asked of his value to Jurgen Klopp’s cause, with some suggesting that he is not right for the system at Anfield.
Aldridge feels detractors are being unfair on a proven performer, with the ex-Reds frontman telling the Liverpool Echo: “Thiago has come in for some recent criticism after the draw with Manchester United and I find that very harsh.
“People questioning his role in the side if he suits Liverpool's style. He’s only played three times in the league since he’s come back and it’s at a time when the front three aren’t clicking.
“You can’t put it on Thiago, no chance. He’s such a gifted player and so lovely to watch. No, I’m not having it. Assess him at the end of the season.”
While calling for patience when it comes to Thiago, Aldridge admits that Klopp could look at shuffling his pack in upcoming fixtures as defending champions Liverpool seek to kick-start their campaign.
He added, with a home date against Burnley on Thursday next up for the Reds: “I think Jurgen might make a few changes against Burnley. Games are coming thick and fast with United again at the weekend then Tottenham and West Ham. Three away games after this.
“I don’t know what he’ll do but he’ll mix it up a little bit. He needs to. Hopefully [Joel] Matip is fit and he can release [Jordan] Henderson in midfield.
“He can’t release Fabinho because he’s been player of the season. He has to stay in defence until we get more people back in that position.
“I think it’s strange he hasn’t looked at [Takumi] Minamino with [Roberto] Firmino below his best. I thought he might have got 25 minutes at least against United but for some reason he’s not getting the time. I don’t know why, only Jurgen knows.”