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Thiago's addition seamless as Reds can stay Fab' for season

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Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara slotted into the team without fuss during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara slotted into the team without fuss during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara slotted into the team without fuss during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Getty Images

Thiago Alcantara lived up to his billing with his magnificent debut performance for Liverpool at Chelsea last Sunday and he has already taken Jurgen Klopp's team to the next level.

It was always going to be hard to build on near perfection, as that's what Liverpool produced for most of last season as they ran away with the Premier League.

Yet I look at the calmness, composure and pure class Thiago displayed after he came on at half-time in the game at Stamford Bridge and it fuelled my belief that Liverpool can kick on and find another gear in the coming months.

It is a reality that has to send a shiver of fear down the spines of their opponents as while Manchester City looked good in their win at Wolves on Monday night, Pep Guardiola and his players will not have liked what they saw from Liverpool as they beat Chelsea 2-0.

Rugby tackle

I know they were down to ten men in the second half after the red card that was correctly given to Andreas Christensen for his rugby tackle on Sadio Mane, yet the job still needed to be done and it was completed with ruthless efficiency by the champions in the second half.

The bigger picture had to be the performances of two Brazilian-born players because Sunday confirmed for me that Liverpool don't need to spend big on a centre-back to fill the hole in their squad left by Dejan Lovren's exit.

Fabinho was outstanding at the heart of the defence and so long as he is happy to play in a centre-back position, he looks to have the potential to become Virgin van Dijk's first choice partner.

Chelsea tried to target Fabinho as he would have been perceived as a weak link in the Liverpool defence, but Timo Werner knocked on his door time and again and there was just no way through.

It looks like Fabinho will save the club £30m this summer as they would have spent that and more trying to find a central defender to turn in a performance of that class against a top-quality opponent and it removes one big issue for Klopp and the club.

Then you look at Thiago and realise a player of his quality does not fall into your lap too often.

After some initial reservations when he first came to Liverpool, I'm now a big fan of Jordan Henderson, but Thiago made a massive impact when he replaced the injured skipper at half-time and confirmed that competition for places in the midfield has just gone to a whole new level.

Henderson has got much better at picking out a decisive pass and the same can be said of Naby Keita, but Thiago underlined everything we expected of him after he finally arrived at the club on Friday.

I said in my Sunday World column a month ago that I expected a deal would be done to get Thiago in and so it proved as he arrived amid a big fanfare last Friday and his debut oozed class from first to last.

He slotted into the team as if he had been there for years and could add a whole new dimension to Liverpool.

I'm sure the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Fimrino are excited by the service they will get from Thiago and I wonder whether his arrival will signal the departure of one of Klopp's other midfielders.

Klopp said Thiago's arrival from Bayern Munich would not mean players need to leave, but he has seven central midfielders at his disposal now and it is at least one too many.

Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Curtis Jones will compete with Thiago for the of central midfield roles, so I would expect at departure.

Liverpool will not want Wijnaldum to leave on a free transfer when his contract expires next summer and with Barcelona keen to sign him, it looks like Thiago has been signed as his replacement, whether that is this summer or next.

Wijnaldum's future is a story that will unfold in the next couple of weeks and the focus for Klopp right now is tomorrow night's Carabao Cup tie at Lincoln City.

Exciting

Klopp will play the reserves in the early stages of a competition that only gets exciting if you get through to the quarter-finals and beyond, with Liverpool unable to challenge for the trophy last season as their quarter-final match at Aston Villa clashed with their commitments in the FIFA World Club Cup.

It meant an Under-23 team played at Villa Park and while I don't expect the Liverpool line-up to be quite so raw at Lincoln, I'd expect all of the probable starters for Monday's game against Arsenal to be absent.

Adrian will play in goal, Neco Williams will be part of the back-line and James Milner and Curtis Jones should get a run-out in midfield.

It will be interesting to see new signing Diogo Jota in action if he is handed a debut and you would expect Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino to start in a line-up that should have more than enough quality to see off Lincoln.

Klopp has so many options at his disposal now and these are exciting times for Liverpool fans as after living through a wonderful year of success, we now have the prospect of so much more.