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Thiago should have extended at Bayern Munich



Bayern Munich, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich, Frenkie de Jong, Thiago, Gavi, Dani Ceballos, Manu Kone, Konrad Laimer

Thiago is on the verge of extinction at Liverpool FC. Three years ago he made the decision to leave Bayern Munich. Now both sides might wish that the cooperation had lasted longer.

Too often, people only realize how important you are to each other when they no longer have each other. In relation to Thiago and FC Bayern Munich, this is absolutely true. For a long time, the Spaniard was controversial in the record champions’ environment. But he was able to say goodbye with the Champions League trophy – which he won as a leading player.

Thiago is said to have cried for five minutes in the FC Bayern underground car park in Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s arms when he said goodbye. At least that is the story of the then CEO. Previously, there were many indications that the midfield strategist would extend his contract again. But things turned out differently: Liverpool FC made a tempting offer and steered the then 29-year-old to the island.

Around three years later, the collaboration is already coming to an end. English media reports that the Reds no longer have a use for Thiago. After these three years, there is one thought in particular: Thiago should have stayed at Bayern.

Thiago: The appealing call from Liverpool

Of course, such a thesis is easy to put forward in hindsight. At that time, Liverpool FC was the measure of all things in Europe – despite Bayern’s Champions League triumph. Working with Jurgen Klopp and being able to check the Premier League off your bucket list at the same time must have been appealing.

Thiago had also won everything at Munich. As he neared his 30s, he had to make the decision of whether to add another note to his career. In this respect, the chosen path is understandable.

But what could have happened if Thiago had stayed in Munich? Ever since he left, there has been a gaping hole in Bayern’s midfield that nobody can fill. Not even Joshua Kimmich, who may have suffered the most from the departure of the 46-time international. Because it is Kimmich who has to bear the entire burden of responsibility in midfield alone.

Thiago was Bayern’s most important player

Thiago is an incomparable player worldwide. The ease with which he moves the ball and the precision with which he serves his teammates over and over again are second to none. Combined with a passion for the ball, which has made the 32-year-old the best and most important player in FC Bayern for years – even ahead of Robert Lewandowski. Not because of an individual difference in quality, but because his position in the system was significantly more central and important.

If Thiago was missing, Bayern lacked ideas, stability and structure. For a long time, this was hardly recognized in Munich – in the environment. However, the relationship between club and player was always intimate. This was evident not least from the warm farewell. Unlike Lewandowski, there was no bad blood, no background noise. And that despite the fact that the player’s change of heart came quite suddenly.

Thiago could have achieved legendary status at Bayern. The term legend is usually overused. Especially at a club like FCB, where there are at least 30 players who could be called that. With Thiago, Munich would have had good cards for another Champions League title.

The Spaniard could have made himself immortal in Munich. Because even if the title in the premier class in 2020 was of great importance, it was won under unequal conditions. The corona crisis meant that the clubs had different starting conditions at the final tournament in Lisbon.

FC Bayern: Thiago had his body under control

To this day, Thiago is the piece of the puzzle that Bayern are missing to step up to the top. And vice versa? The midfielder missed 66 competitive games at Liverpool FC in three years. Knee, calf, hip, thigh, illness – his medical record has grown. That’s another reason why it never worked for him in England. Whether the higher burden is to blame or whether the medical care is different cannot be judged from afar.

But the fact is that the seven-time German champion got a better grip on these problems at Bayern. He missed 48 competitive games between 2015 and 2020 – including just one more serious injury when he tore a muscle in 2017. It is a myth that Thiago was absent too often at Bayern to be an absolute leader. A myth that arose mainly because of his early days, in which he suffered several torn ligaments.

Ironically, when his sponsor and mentor Pep Guardiola left the record champions, Thiago advanced to become the fixed point of the team, on which young players oriented themselves and on which experienced players could surpass themselves. Unforgotten when the right footer screamed in the catacombs in the 5-4 win against RB Leipzig: “They should stop talking! We’re Bayern, dammit!”

The longer Thiago was with Bayern, the more he grew in his tasks – and somehow also in the criticism from outside. He quickly got rid of the cliché of the fair-weather player. With a mixture of passion and elegance, he combined the Spanish with the German gaming culture. A player that the Bundesliga rarely saw.

Thiago at Liverpool just one of many

It was by no means foreseeable that it would not work out at Liverpool FC. A player of this quality can make it at any club. But looking at the last three years, the melancholy on both sides is likely to be even greater.

In England, Thiago didn’t make it to the top of the hierarchy. He remained one of many. The Champions League final in 2022 was almost significant. Thiago arrived ailing and had to interrupt the warm-up, but then he was on the pitch. He was never fit enough to convince the people on the island as he did, especially in the final phase of his time in Munich.

And that’s what makes the subjunctive scenario so special: Although Thiago had won everything in Munich and he also silenced the last criticism, he went at a point in time that didn’t really feel like an end. It might as well have been the beginning. The beginning of a time when Thiago would no longer have had to prove anything to anyone. In which his lightness could have surpassed the pressure of expectation. He had long since arrived in Munich, as he was one of those players who would be bought if he tapped his coat of arms. But with this Champions League win, many of his critics understood why he was so important to the club.

A lot would probably have gone differently for both sides – possibly more positively. In any case, the Spaniard could have made a huge leap forward in the supposedly long list of club legends. At a club where he had the best time of his career. And although FC Bayern was already aware when they said goodbye that they would miss Thiago and that the change was not easy for the player either, both should appreciate their time together even more today. It often only becomes really clear when you no longer have each other.