Liverpool have agreed to sign Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich for a fee of around €30 million, The Athletic can exclusively reveal.
Negotiations have accelerated since Monday after Bayern officials made it clear they wanted a deal completed before the start of the Bundesliga season, which starts tomorrow with the European champions hosting Schalke.
The midfielder will sign a four-year contract and wear the No 6 shirt. Thiago had negotiated a contract extension in May, but he changed his mind just before signing, telling Bayern that he wanted to take up a “new challenge”.
Since then Liverpool has been his preferred destination.
Why are Liverpool signing him?
James Pearce, Liverpool reporter: Given that he is 29 and will command big wages, it is a deal out of keeping with Liverpool’s usual transfer policy of investing in young talent. But the relatively low fee given his contractual situation meant Liverpool ultimately decided he was worth making an exception for.
Jurgen Klopp is a huge admirer. When Liverpool signed Naby Keita, Klopp said he had been the best player in the Bundesliga along with Thiago.
Where will he fit into the team?
Pearce: Filling one of the two more advanced midfield positions in Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 system. Thiago can also play in the holding role but his vision and creativity is best used further forward.
His range of passing will be a major asset, especially against opponents who sit deep and try to frustrate Klopp’s side.
Anfield officials had previously insisted they would only pursue a deal for Thiago if one of Klopp’s established midfielders left the club before the transfer deadline. It remains to be seen whether one will now head for the exit door.
Georginio Wijnaldum has entered the final year of his contract and has attracted interest from new Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman.
Why is Thiago leaving the European champions?
Simon Hughes, football reporter: Thiago negotiated a contract extension in May but changed his mind. He decided that he wanted to take up “a new challenge” and told Bayern that he would be departing after seven years at the cub.
Bayern believe that his decision is not financially driven and have taken his explanation at face value. Hansi Flick tried to change Thiago’s mind but Bayern’s Champions League win only reinforced the sense that he had achieved everything in Munich.
What does this mean for Bayern’s transfer strategy?
Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent: The European champions will not look to replace the playmaker in this window — they have more pressing needs on the flanks and the right-back position. Bayern will look to reinvest the proceeds from Thiago’s sale in the coming weeks.
Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka will be first choice in central midfield, with French duo Corentin Tolisso and Michael Cuisance as back-ups.