Why a Thiago-Wijnaldum swap makes sense for all parties

Few teams sit in better positions at the moment than Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

Liverpool were recently crowned Premier League Champions with a record 7 games remaining. The Reds are on pace to break many more records, as they aim to stake their claim as the most dominant top-flight English side in history.

On the other hand, Bayern Munich clinched their 8th consecutive Bundesliga title, while also winning the DFP Pokal final 4-2 over Bayer Leverkusen this past weekend. Despite a rocky start to the season, The Bavarian side have looked unstoppable since the appointment of Hansi Flick.

But in today’s game, no team can sit back and enjoy their success (ask Barcelona and Real Madrid). Top sides must constantly improve as rival sides look to knock them off their thrones.

Thiago Alcantara

One intriguing rumor that has circulated recently is the mutual interest between Liverpool and Bayern midfielder Thiago. With just one year remaining on his contract, the midfielder is seemingly eager to take his talents to the Premier League.

Liverpool have no interest in signing Thiago - Read Liverpool
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Thiago’s quality is undoubted. The silky Spaniard is a winger playing in the middle of the park, using his smooth touches, body feints, and quick feet to glide by opponents.

However, he still possesses the elite passing range and defensive commitment necessary to solidify his reputation as one of the world’s finest midfielders.

He’s also proven his worth at two of the biggest clubs in the world. Even as a youngster who had to compete with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, and more for playing time, Thiago still showed his worth.

Pep Guardiola made sure that he would have the opportunity to continue to coach him when he moved to Bayern Munich, and the Italian-born player has been a mainstay when healthy ever since.

Thiago Alcantara mulling over Bayern Munich future amid Liverpool ...
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Key term: when healthy. Unfortunately, one of Thiago’s only weaknesses is his not-so-glamorous injury record. In his first two seasons in Germany, (2013/14 & 2014/15), he missed 82 games—many of which were due to an MCL tear in 2014.

He hasn’t suffered from an injury of that calibre since, but still struggles with minor injuries that seem to cost him a handful of games each season. He recently missed the final stretch of games in Bayern’s run to win the Bundesliga following the restart but did make an appearance off the bench in the DFB Pokal victory.

Furthermore, it would require a shift away from Liverpool’s transfer strategy for them to invest substantial money in a player as old as Thiago.

In Jurgen Klopp’s tenure, the only outfield player that Liverpool have purchased that would be older than Thiago if Liverpool were to go through with this transfer was Ragnar Klavan (30 at the time).

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Having turned 29 in April, Thiago isn’t declining by any means, but he also isn’t necessarily looking forward to his best days—especially given the injury history.

Furthermore, Liverpool boast a healthy number of midfield options. Between Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and youngster Curtis Jones, the Reds are probably more concerned about the depth across their backline or their front three.

The Swap Solution 

Similar to Thiago, Wijnaldum is another proven midfielder, aged 29, entering the last year of his contract. One would think that both sides would be looking to extend the Dutchman’s stay on Merseyside, but the fact that an agreement is yet to be reached indicates that maybe Wijnaldum may be considering his options.

So why not swap the two? Let me be clear, this proposition isn’t backed by any transfer rumours, but is one that makes a lot of sense for all parties.

El Liverpool acerca posturas con Georginio Wijnaldum
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By doing this, neither team gets any older, both players seemingly get their wishes of taking on a new experience, and both teams avoid the risk of losing their respective players for free a year from now.

Furthermore, both teams would acquire players that offer them something that their sides currently lack.

Liverpool currently have a plethora of midfielders whose most notable trait is their work rates, with Henderson, Wijnaldum, and Fabinho known for their industrious playing styles. However, they lack a midfielder with the technical ability and deep-lying creativity of Thiago.

On the other hand, Bayern’s midfielders possess more finesse than stamina, highlighted by Joshua Kimmich’s vision and Leon Goretzka’s forward runs. Especially considering that Bayern aren’t quite as deep in the midfield, they could benefit from the hard yards and reliable injury history of Wijanldum.

 

Liverpool news: Interested Barcelona monitoring Georginio Wijnaldum
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For the players, it makes just as much sense. Clearly, Thiago has his eyes set on playing in the Premier League and he will find comfort knowing that Jurgen Klopp has spoken highly of him on multiple occasions.

If Wijnaldum really is seeking a new opportunity, then a move to Bayern would make a lot of sense. The former Newcastle player would be afforded plenty of playing time in a Bayern team that doesn’t have too many options ahead of him and rotates their midfield quite often anyways. Furthermore, he would join a side that is almost certain to continue competing for Champions League glory.

One of the biggest challenges that top teams often face isn’t a decline in talent, but an inability to stave off staleness. When you win 24 straight Premier League games or 8 straight league titles, it’s difficult for players to bring that same energy and commitment to the team, making it necessary to freshen up the squad without compromising quality.

This swap deal presents a rare opportunity for both sides to do so, without having to shell out large sums of money.

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