Neuer wants Bayern midfield 'engine' Thiago to stay

By Sports Desk August 07, 2020

Manuel Neuer hopes Liverpool target Thiago Alcantara can be persuaded to stay at Bayern Munich, describing him as "our engine in midfield".

On the eve of the Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea, captain and goalkeeper Neuer stressed how important the former Barcelona player has become over seven years at Bayern.

Thiago has one year left on his Bayern contract and the club would be reluctant to see him leave on a free transfer in 2021.

One alternative to that prospect would be cashing in on him now, with Premier League champions Liverpool apparently keen on taking him to Anfield.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has praised Thiago, describing him as "a great player", but has declined to speak any further about the Spaniard.

Asked about the influence of Thiago, and the possibility of him being in his final days as a Bayern player, Neuer stressed he hoped the Chelsea game was not the beginning of the end for the 29-year-old in Munich.

"I hope that it won't be one of the last matches of Thiago," Neuer said.

"He had to undergo surgery at the end of the season but now he's back and 100 per cent. He's a very valuable player for us, especially in ball possession. He's very important for us. He's our engine in midfield actually."

Bayern lead Chelsea 3-0 from the first leg of their European tie, so with home advantage on Saturday they should have little trouble making sure of a quarter-final place.

Lisbon will stage the Champions League from the last eight onwards.

Neuer says Bayern are eager to complete a treble, having already won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal in Germany this season.

"We have played a good season and a successful season so far," he said. "We're still hungry and still committed. We have the objective right in front of us.

"We won the league, we won the cup, and now we want to win to achieve this next objective that we have.

"First we have to overcome Chelsea and then it's the knockout stage. They are very high calibre clubs in this competition. We know from our experiences with the national team, for example, that every mistake could cost a lot and you have to really pay attention.

"We've worked together very well for three and a half weeks and we want to achieve a lot."

From the quarter-final stage onwards, it will be a straight knockout event, with two-leg games abandoned to allow the tournament to be completed in the shortest possible time.

"You can achieve a lot, but of course you can also lose a lot in such a format," Neuer said.

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    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp revealed he only recently considered the prospect of signing Thiago Alcantara after previously believing he would be "out of reach".

    The Premier League champions confirmed on Friday that they had captured the 29-year-old from Bayern Munich in a deal worth up to £25million (€27.5m).

    Thiago has arrived at Anfield on a four-year contract, with the Reds paying an initial £20m (€22m), plus an additional £5m (€5.5m) in potential bonuses.

    Klopp said has been a long-time admirer of the midfielder, but did not think the Spain international would be prepared to leave Champions League holders Bayern anytime soon. 

    "Thiago – settled that much at Bayern – is usually out of reach for pretty much everybody," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "If the player doesn't want [to move] massively then you have no chance. 

    "You see that Bayern have long, long, long-term contracts with their main players and Thiago was a main player for Bayern over the years. 

    "I know all the people at Bayern wanted to keep him desperately; that's normal and understandable because he played an important role last season as well. 

    "He just was ready for a new challenge and he decided it was with us. But did I think about him earlier? I thought a lot about him but never as a potential transfer, to be honest."

    Thiago arrives at Anfield as a Champions League and Bundesliga winner but Klopp says his squad will not be in awe of him given their own European and Premier League success over the past two seasons. 

    "The players are happy," he added. "Since they knew about it they are really excited about it as well. And when they meet him, they will know he is a guy who doesn't need any special treatment. 

    "He won the Champions League this year but all the other guys won it last year. Yes, he became German champion this year; our guys became English champions. 

    "It's not that somebody is coming in and now we have to roll red carpets out or whatever; not at all. He wants to be part of the team, work hard and be as successful as possible."

    Klopp confirmed that Thiago will not be part of the squad for their top-flight clash with Chelsea on Sunday, meaning he could make his debut in the EFL Cup meeting with Lincoln City on Thursday.

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    Thiago was rumoured to be a target of Jurgen Klopp's before the transfer window opened, with the Reds boss aiming to add more creativity to his midfield unit.

    The Premier League champions have now got their man, with the 29-year-old – whose deal at Bayern was due to expire in June 2021 – signing a four-year contract at Anfield.

    Stats Perform News understands Liverpool will pay an initial £20m (€22m), with an additional £5m (€5.5m) in bonuses.

    Liverpool's pursuit of Thiago developed into something of a saga, with the midfielder acknowledging his signing has felt "a long time" in the making, but he is now relishing further success on Merseyside, where he has been impressed by a feeling of unity.

    "I think it's an amazing feeling. I was waiting for this moment for a long time and I am very, very happy to be here," he told the club's website.

    "When the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can – and when you win, you want to win more. I think this club describes what I am as well; I want to achieve all of the goals, win as many trophies as possible.

    "It also [has] this kind of family [feeling] that I need because we [like to] have a very close relationship with the club and I think I will feel this, I will have this feeling, with this club as well.

    "[The supporters] are not more excited than I am, for sure not! It is not about saying words, it is about doing the things. I will give my heart on the field to my teammates, the club and also to the fans."

    Spain international Thiago has thrived since joining Bayern in 2013, having been brought to the Bundesliga giants by his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.

    After coming through at Barca as an attacking midfielder, Thiago has dropped into a deeper role in recent seasons and was integral to Bayern's treble success in 2019-20.

    In total, Thiago made 235 appearances in all competitions across his seven seasons with Bayern, scoring 31 goals and providing 35 assists.

    Thiago, who will wear the number six shirt for Liverpool, helped Bayern to seven successive Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal wins and one Champions League triumph.

    He becomes Liverpool's second signing of the transfer window following the arrival of left-back Kostas Tsimikas.

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    The Premier League champions have now got their man, with the 29-year-old – whose deal at Bayern was due to expire in June 2021 – signing a "long-term contract" at Anfield.

    It is understood Liverpool will pay an initial £20m (€22m), with an additional £5m (€5.5m) in bonuses.

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