Gary Neville told Liverpool they need to have Thiago Alcantara in their summer signing in order to have some chance to challenge for a second consecutive Premier League title.
The Manchester United legend says the arrival of the Spaniard will give the Reds squad the boost they need for another year to sustain their impressive standard of success.
Jurgen Klopp forced his squad to the limit for two consecutive seasons, resulting in Liverpool winning back-to – back the Champions League and the Premier League and racking up 197 points in the table.
Neville knows a little about the emotional drop-off teams they can deal from when they play constantly at the top level.
The former defender has won eight Premier League titles and two European Cups with United, and is aware of the impact a big signing can have on the rest of the team in a key role.
So far, Liverpool has made only one signing this summer, Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas’ £12million arrival, while their rivals have all improved, with Chelsea particularly spending heavily on signing over £200m so far.
A offer has been rumored for weeks for Thiago but nothing has yet come to fruition with the Reds reportedly hesitating to splash out on the 29-year-old.
“It wouldn’t be ridiculous to suggest there will be a slight drop off, if they don’t somehow stimulate that squad by doing something,” Neville said.
“It is a huge emotional drain on the group of players for three years.
“To ask them to go again and achieve that same standard would be a superhuman effort. Getting them to do the same without amendment to the squad to give them that lift again, that is where signing Thiago would give the big one for Liverpool – to send a message to the rest of the players that we’ve signed one of the best players in the world in that position.
“He is world class and would give them a world-class presence in an area of the field where they don’t have a world-class presence. They need that impetus to stay where they are.
“I could be wrong – they could deliver exactly what they did before but looking at history it doesn’t work like that usually.”
“I don’t think they will go down but it will be a lot bigger challenge for them without that crowd,” Neville said.
“People ask about the most ferocious atmosphere you’ve played in. There is no doubt Anfield was the biggest test but when you went to Elland Road it was the most hostile, without a shadow of a doubt.”
But Neville says Spain International is arguably one of the world’s best midfielders, and a quality player coming to Anfield will give Klopp ‘s side the boost they need to be title challengers in a row for a third year.
This weekend, Liverpool is starting their season against Leeds, with white fans celebrating their long-awaited return to top flight with a champions vs. champions clash.
But the big one for fans, in April, will be the battle between the Yorkshire club and old rivals Manchester United.
And Neville is hoping that by the time the two rivals meet at Elland Road for the first time in donkey years, fans will be back in stadium.