Liverpool expect to complete the signing of Thiago Alcantara on Friday after agreeing an initial £20 million fee with Bayern Munich.
The 29-year-old midfielder will head to Merseyside on Friday morning and will complete his medical before signing a four-year contract. Personal terms have already been agreed with the Spain international.
Thiago bade goodbye to Bayern in a series of messages and videos on social media on Friday morning. "My decision is purely of a sporting nature," he wrote. "As a soccer player I want new challenges to develop myself further."
After sparking into life what had been a relatively inactive transfer window for the Premier League champions, Liverpool’s spending may not end there. The club is also interested in Watford's Ismaila Sarr, although they are yet to make an approach for the 22-year-old.
Watford will seek considerably more than the £35m they paid for the Senegal forward a year ago, which means there could be a massive difference in valuations should Liverpool pursue their interest.
For now, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp will be thrilled to have the Thiago deal so close after months of interest.
The fee may potentially rise to £25m should Thiago be part of a title-winning or Champions League-winning side over the course of his Anfield career.
On request, he has been allocated Liverpool’s No6 six jersey.
- In Thiago Alcantara, Liverpool have their midfield controller, capable of combining discipline with vision
It is a measure of the transfer coup that Bayern are so deflated to lose the player having offered him fresh terms following their recent Champions League victory.
“Thiago was an exceptional player for seven years for Bayern Munich,” said Bayern coach Hansi Flick.
“The way he played he gave many options to the team, he was a surprising player because he solved problems in ways people did not expect. It was a joy working with him. He is an absolute professional and a great person. I congratulate Klopp. He gets a top player and a sensational person.”
The deal represents more shrewd business by Sporting Director Michael Edwards. Bayern had previously said they wanted £27m for Thiago, but once negotiations formally began they were resolved swiftly. Liverpool did not want to pay that much for a player who is out of contract next summer and could have been signed on a pre-contract deal in January ahead of move in 2021.
However, the timing of the signing shows how eager Klopp and the club are for a reinforcement in this window, and the initial £20m works for all parties.
Liverpool’s interest in Thiago was first mooted at the end of last season and initially played down by the Merseyside club.
They have said throughout the current transfer window they are not in a position to invest in players without being sure of the return of revenue streams. There is an enduring feeling players will have to be sold to fund purchases.
However, every side - even those defending a title - needs to be refreshed, and Thiago has the pedigree to slot immediately into Klopp’s starting XI.
Signing him solves another issue as Klopp is lacking central defensive cover. Now he can use Fabinho in that role as an emergency as Thiago is adept at playing the specialist position in front of the central defence.
Should the deal go through without a hitch as anticipated, that may open up the possibility of Georginio Wijnaldum moving to Barcelona, although Liverpool have often said that equation is not so simple. Wijnaldum is in the same position as Thiago in that he has a year remaining on his current contract and could leave for free in a year.
The difference is the Dutchman has said he is happy to stay at Anfield and would like fresh terms. If an offer is not forthcoming, he may want to explore his options and join his former national coach Ronald Koeman at Camp Nou.
But Liverpool say any move for Thiago is independent of Wijnaldum’s situation and will not inevitably lead to his exit.