Graeme Souness has likened Thiago Alcantara to Brazil legend Zico and expects the new Liverpool signing to “breeze” through the Premier League.
Thiago was an impressive performer in the second half of last Sunday’s 2-0 win at Chelsea having arrived from Bayern Munich for an initial £20million to days earlier.
Former Liverpool skipper and manager Souness regards Zico as the best player he ever came up against during his lengthy career.
And he is convinced Thiago can have a similar impact with the Reds and has already become a first-choice player in their midfield.
“Zico was the best I played against, I don’t think I got within two yards of him in maybe eight times I played against him in the course of my career with Liverpool, Sampdoria and Scotland,” said Souness.
“He was one of those rare players that always seemed to have an extra yard of space to play in, the radar to see several moves ahead, the intelligence to be perfectly positioned when he received the ball and the perfect weight of touch to open the game out rather than taking it towards an opponent.
“I suspect that many current Premier League players may find Thiago Alacantara as difficult to deal with.
“I reckon Thiago should find British football a breeze because he’s that good, too. Whenever you buy a player as a manager, you’re always trying to eliminate risk. Thiago ticks all the boxes – tremendous work rate, vastly experienced, he’s a creator but doesn’t shy away from the hard yards either.
“Liverpool’s strongest XI picks itself other than their midfield. Klopp varies it more there than in his attack or defence and he needs a strong squad this season, but if he was playing in a European Cup final tomorrow I reckon he’d pick Fabinho, Thiago and one other as his midfield for it.
“You have to mention the money Liverpool have paid for Thiago. It’s an absolute bargain for four years from a truly world-class player.”
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Souness believes Thiago’s experiences with Barcelona and Bayern Munich mean he will have no problem coping with the unique demands of playing for Liverpool.
But he admits that will be something to which the Reds’ other new signing, £41m man Diogo Jota, will have to adapt.
“Thiago will understand that you’re playing in cup finals every week because the opposition badly wants to beat you,” added Souness, writing in The Sunday Times. “He can deal with all that.
“That would be my only question mark against Diogo Jota, Liverpool’s other new signing. At Wolves, it wasn’t a cup final every week but it will be at Liverpool, so he has to show that he’s ready for that.
“Otherwise, he fits the bill to deputise anywhere in that front three. He’s got great technique and understanding of the game.”
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