Jurgen Klopp acknowledges Thiago Alcantara will need time to adapt to Liverpool’s system but felt the 2-0 win over Chelsea was the “perfect” opportunity for a debut.
Thiago signed from Bayern Munich this week in an initial £20million transfer and was named on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
When captain Jordan Henderson had to be replaced at half-time, the Spain midfielder was introduced for his Premier League bow and played his part as Sadio Mane scored twice against Chelsea’s 10 men.
Thiago completed 75 passes, more than any Chelsea player managed in the entire match and more than any Premier League player when on the pitch for only 45 minutes since Opta passing data began in 2003-04.
On the other hand, he conceded a penalty for a foul on Timo Werner, but Alisson saved Jorginho’s spot-kick and Klopp was pleased overall with the performance of his new man.
“It was top timing,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “He trained. He had eight days off or whatever. He played with Spain, he trained with Munich, he’s fit, so that’s not a problem.
“But of course, he’s not used to our things. We play a different system, but that’s how it is, that’s how football is. You need to get used to your mates next to you.
“But then when they have one man down, it’s pretty much the perfect game. And with Hendo feeling a little bit, we had to react and we decided to bring him on.
“I liked it, I liked his game a lot. Defensively was tricky for him because we set it up differently, but offensively, with the ball, yeah, that’s him. He wants to pass the ball.”
Thiago played at the base of the midfield, where Fabinho would usually be stationed.
The Brazilian was shifted into the centre of defence due to injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, and Klopp was delighted with the way he dealt with Werner.
“Timo is a top player. With space, there is no real football tactic that can defend him when he has the ball,” Klopp said.
“But Fabinho obviously is a pretty good challenger, really good in one-on-one situations. He did outstandingly well.
“He can play the position and obviously today enjoyed it a lot, so it was good, a really good performance. If Sadio doesn’t score two goals, I think a man of the match contender would have been Fabinho.”
Thiago was followed into Anfield by Diogo Jota, signed from Wolves, and Klopp was asked to reflect on a positive week for the champions.
“We’ve had a lot of good weeks in the past, to be honest, but this was a good one as well,” he replied.