Paul Merson has admitted to Sky Sports that he feared Xherdan Shaqiri may not play another minute for Liverpool before this season started.
Shaqiri has actually been used fairly regularly off the bench for Liverpool this season, with Jurgen Klopp needing to inject more creativity into his side.
And Merson says that Shaqiri’s constant cameos clearly indicate why Thiago should start for the Reds at the weekend.
“I feel teams are approaching Liverpool now, not giving them any space, and saying: ‘You’ll have to break us down.’ Liverpool are struggling without that guile in midfield. They’ll need Thiago to play every week. He’s the one who sees that pass,” he explained.
“I think Jurgen Klopp knows this now, because he’s even bringing Xherdan Shaqiri in, someone who you’d have previously thought might not play another minute for Liverpool. But he can put the ball through the eye of a needle.
“Without that, it takes the Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino X-factor out of the game. Liverpool are still the best in the world without the ball, but when there’s no space there, it gets taken away.
“Thiago must play every week. He can see that pass, and we’ve seen evidence of that in a couple of games. It might not always come off, but he sees it.”
Thiago looks an almost definite starter for Liverpool on Sunday, especially with Naby Keita now a doubt.
Shaqiri also has a starting claim, although it would be more of a shock if he was given the nod to feature from the off.
Shaqiri has actually caught the eye on a few cameo appearances this term, but even with Liverpool struggling in an attacking sense the £13 million man (BBC Sport) has failed to break into their starting line-up.
The Reds are under pressure to avoid defeat at the weekend as they have now lost their lead at the top of the Premier League table and a defeat would be very damaging to their title chances.
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