The temptation is, in fact, to attach that tendency to the game’s rising curiosity in and reliance on analytics — that is soccer, because the nerds needed it — and even to the sport’s persevering with infiltration by individuals who can solely be described as Americans. That might, although, supply solely a partial clarification.
Just as related, maybe, is the sport’s talking-point tradition, its entrenched tribalism and infinite squabbling for supremacy, its thirst for virality, consideration and clout. Cold, exhausting numbers carry extra weight in 280 characters, in spite of everything, than such outdated ideas as metaphor, or allusion.
Whatever the trigger, few have been boiled right down to a succession of numbers fairly a lot as Thiago. In his first season and a half in England, it was typically a handy stick to which to beat him: His objective and help tallies, in spite of everything, hardly indicated that he was a worthwhile part of Liverpool, not to mention an excellent performer.
Belatedly, in the previous couple of weeks, the dynamic has modified. Thiago had a cross completion charge of 92 p.c within the F.A. Cup semifinal victory towards Manchester City. He performed 129 passes in the latest humbling of Manchester United, and 123 of them discovered their supposed goal.
A number of days in the past, he made extra profitable passes towards Everton than all of his opponents mixed. And then, towards Villarreal, he turned in 119 touches, 103 passes performed, 99 passes accomplished, 100% of tackles gained, 5 interceptions, 9 lengthy balls accomplished and one earnest suggestions session with a barely unwilling Diogo Jota.