Liverpool already know that January’s return could change seasons – Paul Gorst

So far, there have been two opposing stories of Liverpool’s summer purchases.

On the one hand, Diogo Jota started life on Anfield like a madman.

The versatile frontman is second behind only Mohamed Salah in the goalscorer, with his nine bouts already sending the Reds to crucial victories in both the Premier League and Champions League.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers star has transitioned seamlessly to the Liverpool team, handling the often intense and overwhelming expectations with a minimum of fuss.

Within three months of his Merseyside career, the £ 45 million man has lit the fire for the debate over what Jurgen Klopp’s best strike is.

Considering the magnitude of that task before he arrived in mid-September, that’s an achievement.

Now a full-fledged Portuguese international with three goals in his eight caps to date, the forward has spoken this week about learning from none other than the great Cristiano Ronaldo.

“As Portuguese boys, we always saw him as our most important reference,” Jota says of the Portuguese icon Ronaldo.

That could only be beneficial in the future as he continues to learn his trade at an elite level.

The visit from his former club Wolves this week gives him the ideal opportunity to write another exciting page for what has been an exciting opening chapter of his Liverpool story.

Jota turned 24 on Friday and is now entering the phase of his career where potential can be realized.

With just a few months into a five-year deal, Reds fans can witness his golden era as they prepare to return to Anfield on Sunday for the first time in nine months.

On the other hand, Thiago Alcantara remains trapped in the traps with no release until the new year at the earliest.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that the two-time Champions League winner has arrived as one of the greatest ever players at Liverpool.

The long-established culture of creating stars rather than drawing them meant that the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona midfielder could lay claim to such a claim.

At least in the Premier League era.

But despite his obvious class, the Spain international remains grounded, unable to make a significant contribution in his early days.

The final whistle last Saturday in Brighton also caused a quiet relegation for Thiago.

His 135 minutes so far mean he rests at the foot of the table for the entire squad in the Liverpool outfield.

The fact that Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips are on that list nearly three months after he signed for the 29-year-old tells you a lot about how strange this campaign has been for Klopp and his players.

In total, Thiago has played a total of 14 games in his two and a half months as a Liverpool player.

Matches against Lincoln City and Arsenal in the Carabao Cup he would have missed had he been fully fit anyway, but it still paints an unflattering picture.

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In all fairness, there was little Thiago could do to avoid Richarlison’s dangerous, knee-high lunge that has left him on the shelf since Oct. 17.

And even less could he do to avoid a coronavirus diagnosis ahead of the now infamous 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa at the beginning of the same month.

The midfielder did finish the game at Goodison Park but hasn’t been seen since, with Klopp recently revealing that he won’t return until 2021.

“ The problem is in such a situation, nothing is torn and nothing is broken and that means everyone thinks ‘okay, you can do it after a few days’, but the impact on the leg was so great that it still isn’t okay, ‘said Klopp.

And while every team would benefit from having Thiago’s gifts on hand, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Liverpool haven’t missed him.

Simply put, they haven’t had him on the team long enough to take the brunt of his absence.

Which brings us to what things might look like when he finally makes his comeback around the turn of the year.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah

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Liverpool have somehow continued to rely on their strong character as they negotiate a crippling list of injuries that would have derailed most other clubs.

At one point, Klopp has not been able to appeal to almost everyone in his squad, with the exception of Andy Robertson and Gini Wijnaldum.

The absentee list is currently at nine leading up to Wolves’ visit this weekend, even if Klopp would be hopeful that one or two will give the green light during Friday night’s practice.

While the Reds continue to wade through the injury minefield, a fully fit Thiago could be the perfect boost on his way to the second half of the season.

Like a new signature? Maybe not, but an enormous injection of quality in a team that is already bursting with it.

Klopp’s most recent update has curbed speculation about where and when we might see Thiago next. At least for now.

Now the challenge for the player is to reduce himself to 100 percent as quickly as possible.

He will still have a strong say on what is happening with Liverpool’s pursuit of honor.

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