Bayern Munich head coach Hans-Dieter Flick has said that he understands if Thiago Alcantara, who has been heavily linked with Liverpool, wants to leave the Bundesliga champions to test himself in the Premier League - but would still be disappointed to see the player go.
Thiago joined Bayern from Barcelona in the summer of 2013 and has won the Bundesliga every year that he has been in Germany. But he has now entered the final 12 months of his contract in Bavaria and reports in recent months indicate he is seeking a fresh challenge at the age of 29.
Liverpool have been the club most closely associated with Thiago for a number of weeks.
Flick has stated he would rather the midfielder stays in Munich next season and beyond, although he wouldn’t hold it against him if he decides he wants to go elsewhere.
“I can understand when a player is concerned,” the Bayern boss told Sport1. “Thiago played in Spain for Barcelona and in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich. If he wants to try the Premier League now, I totally understand.
“But it would be a shame because Thiago gives our game that certain something. That's why I would like to have him as a coach on the team for the next few years, but life would go on.”
It was reported in Germany last month that Thiago has rejected Bayern’s offer of a new four-year contract, surprising his club in the process because they were the original terms he was asking for.
It was also then claimed in Germany soon after that it is the player’s ambition to join Liverpool and that Jurgen Klopp had asked the Anfield hierarchy to pursue a deal.
At the end of July, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge publicly confirmed that Thiago has expressed a desire to leave, telling Sky Deutschland, “Thiago told Hasan [Salihamidzic] some time ago that he would like to try something new at the end of his career. We have to accept that.”
Whether Liverpool will actually make an approach remains unclear. Even though Bayern are rumoured to have lowered their asking price from €36m to €30m in an effort to try and lure in buyers, Liverpool have been reported to value the player at no more than about £18m.
The new Premier League champions have also been focusing more on a back-up left-back since the domestic season finished and have had an opening £10m bid for Norwich’s Jamal Lewis rejected.
The latest from the Liverpool Echo on the club’s interest in Thiago is that there are ‘no plans on making a move for Thiago at the present time’.
But German publication Kicker claims that there remains mutual interest in a transfer from both the player and Klopp - with Liverpool’s owners putting the brakes on for now, at least, until more player sales are finalised and the Reds can better spend within their means amid the coronavirus crisis.
Kicker further notes that discussions are also ongoing as to whether Thiago even fits with Liverpool’s vision and project in terms of his age and somewhat patchy injury record.