The £34m dream signing Liverpool could replace Thiago Alcantara with after dire season

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Spaniard is not expected to stay on Merseyside beyond the summer transfer window.

There have been bags of microwaveable popcorn that have spent more time in the heat of battle than Thiago Alcantara this season. The Liverpool midfielder was stranded by injury for the first part of the campaign, and it would eventually transpire that his long-awaited comeback - a cameo appearance against Arsenal earlier this month - was more of an illusory mirage than any kind of meaningful oasis.

It took just five minutes for the Spaniard to unravel 10 months of hard graft and rehabilitation, straining some muscle or other in a cruel setback to both him and his side. At this stage, there is no concrete indication as to when he is expected to return, but The Telegraph have suggested that he is still 'several weeks' away from being in contention.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And given that Thiago is a 32-year-old whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign, there are those wondering, vocally, whether he might have already played his final game for the Reds. Even if he hasn't, it is incredibly difficult to imagine to the veteran talent staying beyond the end of the summer transfer window.

With that in mind, Liverpool, for the second year running, may well require midfield reinforcements before the beginning of the new campaign. Then again, that would only be one of several anticipated changes at Anfield in the coming months. Jurgen Klopp shocked the footballing world a short while ago when he announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. As the dust continues to settle, the hunt for his replacement begins furtively.

The most heavily touted name at this early stage is that of Bayer Leverkusen boss (and former Red) Xabi Alonso, and with good reason. The Spaniard has guided the unfancied German outfit to the summit of the Bundesliga table courtesy of a phenomenal unbeaten run, and his personal stock has sky-rocketed as a result.

But if Liverpool can prise him away from the BayArena, then they would do well to pick up one of the most influential members of his dressing room at the same time. Exequiel Palacios is an Argentine international, a World Cup winner, and a hugely in-demand asset at the present moment. Reports this week have suggested that both Newcastle United and Aston Villa are considering offers for the 25-year-old, with the bidding expected to start at around £34 million. At that price, Liverpool would be foolish not to stick their nose in - especially given Thiago's looming departure.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Granted, Palacios would not necessarily be a like-for-like replacement. He is combative in his style, an aggressive presence more used to bullying a midfield than dictating it with passages of metronomic distribution. But there are reasons to believe that he could be a good fit for the Reds.

Firstly, while he is not immediately synonymous with his creative talents, the South American is by no means a footballing luddite. So far this season, he has averaged a pass completion rate of 92% - higher than anybody in Liverpool's current squad, by the way - and 1.3 key passes per 90 minutes. Dominik Szboszlai is the only Anfield midfielder to eclipse that particular tally this term.

Then, there is the domino effect that it could have on those who already ply their trade on Merseyside. Like Wataru Endo, Palacios would be another sitting midfielder who would allow the likes of Alexis Mac Allister and the aforementioned Szoboszlai to flourish in more advanced areas. Liverpool don't necessarily need a Thiago clone, they just need somebody who can exacerbate the strengths of their current system and personnel.

Of course, there are obstacles to navigate. Leverkusen are understandably reluctant to sell this summer, and even if they can be tempted, the likes of Newcastle and Villa will provide stiff competition. If, however, an agreement can be reached, Palacios would surely be a fine acquisition for the Reds.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.