When the prospect of moving to Liverpool Football Club became a genuine possibility, Thiago Alcantara sought to glean some insider knowledge from two faces familiar to Reds supporters.
The midfielder completed a transfer from FC Bayern Munich on Friday afternoon to become Jürgen Klopp’s second signing of the summer, following Kostas Tsimikas.
It comes after Thiago spent seven years at the Allianz Arena and won a league, cup and Champions League treble in 2019-20.
So, when switching from Munich to Merseyside, the 29-year-old was keen to get the inside track on the club – and he did so by picking the brains of Xabi Alonso and Philippe Coutinho, who both returned glowing recommendations.
Thiago sat down with Liverpoolfc.com shortly after signing his long-term deal to discuss the move, the reasons behind his desire to make the switch, and his hopes and ambitions for his time at Anfield.
Watch the interview in full on LFCTV GO now, or read on for a full transcript...
Thiago, welcome to Liverpool Football Club. Can you describe how you’re feeling right now?
Thank you. Wow… I think it’s an amazing feeling. I was waiting for this moment for a long time and I am very, very happy to be here.
Why are Liverpool the right club for you to join?
Because at the end, when the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can – and when you win, you want to win more. I think this club describes what I am as well; I want to achieve all of the goals, win as many trophies as possible. It also [has] this kind of family [feeling] that I need because we [like to] have a very close relationship with the club and I think I will feel this, I will have this feeling, with this club as well.
Did you speak to anyone about Liverpool and what you can expect here, players who maybe have played here?
Yeah, for sure. More than the football aspect because in the end, Liverpool is what it is for the last years, the last decades. They were amazing, they performed and it is raising every year as much as you can, as much as they can, as much as we can, is what I should say. More than that, it is the family aspect, the life aspect – how is the city? Where to go. How was the life [here]? People like Philippe Coutinho and Xabi Alonso helped me a lot to take this last step. It’s really good.
What have the last few days and hours been like as we came towards this move being completed?
Wow. If I tell you the truth it was hard because I was with Bayern for seven years and from the first day until the last day, I was amazed with the club, with the people there, with the city. It was really difficult to leave the city, but in the end I was moving to here so the decision was clear. At the same time, it was hard.
You have been here before. What do you remember of your experience of playing at Anfield in the Champions League in 2019?
Well, it was my second time here. The first time I was here when I was five or six years old, I think. My dad played against Liverpool with Celta Vigo. I think it was, at that time, it was the UEFA Cup. My second time was a draw here; we didn’t plan to defend as much as we defended because we hated just to defend a whole game, but they were stronger than us and we had to adapt. The second game was amazing [to play here].
What do you remember about that Celta Vigo game here at Anfield?
I was never a fan of many clubs, I was just a fan of football. I was surprised with the people here, how they live football and it was really a shock for me.
And this is now your home and one day you will be playing in front of those supporters. How excited are you to make Anfield your home?
I am excited not just to wait to play here, but also to train with my teammates, to get to know the coach and what he wants, how the team plays. I want to help the guys if I can help them to be even better than they are, and I can be better than I am. It would be so nice and I hope for that.
Playing against this Liverpool side then for Bayern, what stood out for you? Did you realise anything about them from coming up against them?
No, at that time I just prepared for the game as I prepared for all the games I play. I watched two or three games of them, analysing them – how they attack, how they defend, where the weak points of them [were]. We always try to find them – and also the strong ones. At that time, I didn’t think much about, ‘Wow I am going to be there… I want to be there’. I just faced it like another important game.
What was it like to play Liverpool, though? Especially that night at the Allianz Arena…
It was good. In that time, we were not in our best condition and it was a hard defeat for us.
Obviously you will know Liverpool went on to win the Champions League that season. Followed by three more trophies including the Premier League, what were your thoughts watching that from the outside?
Well, I think Liverpool deserved years ago to win the Premier League, but they didn’t have the luck. At the end, they are a team that always fights for [trophies] and this year was really well deserved from a long time ago. I am happy for the guys, happy for the coach as well and also living from a little bit of a distance, I think what you lived here must have been great.
Any standout memories? Any scenes of the supporters that stuck in your mind?
No, because in the end as a football player, you look at those kinds of things like, ‘I want it, I want that, I want to win that’ and you just feel this positive jealousy. They deserved it for sure, congratulations, but I want to win mine. You don’t look at it like a fan, you just appreciate the moment.
You did win yours not so long ago, did that make it more difficult to leave Bayern, leave the current European champions?
Well, the moment with Bayern was an amazing one. It was the best sporting moment for me there. All the time, all the years, that we wished for that trophy and then in my last year, when I said to the guys I was leaving, I think it was a push from me that we could win it – and we did it.
Now you are here, you’re a Liverpool player. How do you believe your style of play can complement this team?
First off, for sure I think I must adapt to the team as fast as I can in the situation and the context that we are living right now. Everything is more compact and we started a little bit later, but still it is football and I think we have to mix all the big things up, all the good things we have. I will help the team in a defensive and offensive [way] and also in a mental aspect.
Everybody talks about how tough the Premier League is. Are you excited for the challenge of adapting to a new league?
For sure. That was my first idea when it became [apparent] I could play with Liverpool. I got excited with that idea to play in the Premier League. In the end, it is football.
There are a lot of top-class midfielders already here at Liverpool. Do you have to almost fight for your place from today in order to get into the team?
I think in all teams in the world we must deserve to play – that’s what we are training for. Also, we have to know to enjoy when you are playing, but also when you are on the bench to help your teammates. I am there for everything.
In terms of your fitness, obviously it was a shorter break for everyone this year. Do you feel ready to come in and challenge straight away?
Wow, I think I didn’t have a holiday – I feel like I am in the middle of the season! So, I am pretty good, 100 per cent.
You’re known for your passing ability. How much are you looking forward to now supplying the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino?
Well they’ve had good passers in the team in the past years, starting from the defence – and also Alisson has an amazing pass. They always have good players to pass the ball with Henderson, with Wijnaldum, with many other great players in midfield. I am just adding this skill, this quality, for the benefit of the team.
You mentioned him earlier, but what about the chance to work under Jürgen Klopp, someone you competed against for two seasons in Germany? He was an opponent and now he is your manager…
I am glad to have him as a coach to try to reach my football, to try to learn as much as I can with the team. Yeah, he suffered a little bit with me there in the Bundesliga when he was at Dortmund! But in football, you have these moments of joy and also you have not-so-good moments. We suffered that with elimination last year against Liverpool.
Have you had a chance to speak to Jürgen since the move was completed?
Yeah, I have. I’ve had a couple of chances to speak with him and, as everybody knows, he is an amazing guy and he tries to give always his positive side.
I know you’ve said in the past your ambition is to improve every year. How do you do that after winning the treble with Bayern?
As I said in the first question you asked me, when you win you want to win more. I want this, if I want to win here, the first year and then second, third, fourth and the years I am here.
Finally, Liverpool supporters are very excited by your signing. What is your message to them?
They are not more excited than I am, for sure not! It is not about saying words, it is about doing the things. I will give my heart on the field to my teammates, the club and also to the fans.