Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara is “a victim” of their underperforming front three this season, according to former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell.
The Spaniard has been criticised at times for his performances following his summer transfer from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
His arrival has coincided with a terrible season for the Reds which has seen them go from champions to sitting in sixth place in the Premier League, while they recently lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Spaniard’s season has also been hit by injury which has hampered his acclimatisation, missing 10 Premier League matches for Liverpool between October and December.
Lots of Liverpool players have struggled to match their displays from last season, including their front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, and Campbell thinks Thiago has come in for some unfair criticism.
“I think Thiago’s been alright if I’m honest,” Campbell told Football Insider.
“Liverpool’s problems have been that decimated defence and the fact that the front three have not hit the heights they hit in the last two seasons.
“Thiago is a good player, he probes, he picks up the ball, he’s something a bit different to the other Liverpool midfielders.
“Whether he plays or not, if the front boys aren’t banging the goals in, you’re going to struggle.
“He’s a victim of the team not being as fluent and clinical as they have been in the last two seasons.”
Ahead of their match with Leeds, which Liverpool drew 1-1 on Monday evening, Thiago insisted that he was “loving” the opportunity to “evolve” under Jurgen Klopp.
In an interview in Liverpool’s matchday programme, Thiago said: “I would say it’s a much faster style of football than in other leagues so a lot of it has been about finding the rhythm.
“But in terms of quality, tactics and strategy it’s the same as the others. It’s more a question of adapting to your new life outside of football rather than professionally.
“I’d come off the back of a successful season with Bayern, and so I arrived here in good form and feeling fit and was warmly welcomed with the good wishes of my team-mates and all the fans too.
“Unfortunately, in the first week I got COVID, and then as soon as I’d got over that, I sustained the injury in my first game back against Everton.
“So you could say it was a tough start for me, and now I’m continuing to adapt and settle in. But the club have given me every possible means for that process to happen as quickly as possible.
“Moving between countries is something I’ve done a lot throughout my life,” he said. “We would move frequently when we were young because of my father’s career.
“At the same time, you arrive in a new country that you’re unfamiliar with and now with the COVID-19 situation you don’t really get to know your new home.
“Our lives are 100% football at the moment – home, training, home, training – so you could be anywhere in the world.
“Football is football and so in that sense I don’t think it matters whether you are playing in England, Spain, Germany or China.
“At the same time, from the very first day I’ve been adapting to the club’s style of play. I’m still doing that right now and it’s something that I love to do.
“We always have to evolve as players and leave behind stuff from the past – not forget about it entirely but put it to good use for the things we need to do in the present.
“It’s being able to see what kind of football the team wants me to play and what football my team-mates play so that I can get used to that style very quickly too.”