Thiago Alcântara received a standing ovation at Anfield after producing arguably his best performance in a Liverpool shirt on Tuesday night.
Mo Salah scored twice, with Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane also scoring, in a totally dominant display from Jurgen Klopp’s team.
But while it was the three terrifying forwards that did the damage, Thiago was the best player on the field for a mile in the country.
United just couldn’t get close to him during his 80 minutes on the pitch. He was always one step ahead, creating so much time and space for himself with shimmies and turns that had fans, viewers, and commentators purring.
Jamie Carragher made some weird noises watching Thiago show off, while the iconic Peter Drury said the Spaniard “does things with football that should be illegal” during his commentary.
It was a perfect summary of Thiago as a footballer and it was truly a joy to watch his last match. His passing, whether playing across the lines or switching play to full-back or winger, was great money.
In fact, in the first half, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich man completed 98% of his passes – which is pretty ridiculous accuracy when you think about it.
In addition, he had the most touches with 129, the most accurate passes with 105 and the most passes in the final third with 25.
These are just some of the areas he has led in the statistics department.
Thiago has a special arrogance about him on the field and genuinely plays like he’s in his backyard. Bruno Fernandes tried to pressure him several times, but failed each time.
He defeated him with his deft spin and there was another moment when Thiago threw the ball over his head and controlled it with ease.
Thiago is possibly the most aesthetically pleasing footballer in world football and everything he does looks easy on the eyes.
But he was also extremely effective off the ball and made crucial intercepts and blocks to regain possession of his team – winning seven of seven duels and completing three tackles and two interceptions.
Thiago himself played down his post-game display and focused on praising the team, but Klopp had no problem being lyrical about his number 6.
“Not bad, huh? He’s a world-class player. He can be very dangerous with and without the ball,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“Thiago played a good game. So from our point of view, there’s really nothing to complain about. We don’t really take that for granted.
“He didn’t want to leave! He wanted to stay on the field – I like the desire behind it! He played a good game. The football is excellent, but his counterattack was crazy. That makes the package complete. I couldn’t respect it.” you more.
“He’s an exceptional player. We have to make sure he can keep the momentum going and he can play as fast as possible.”