The former Reds striker wants to see the defending champions include a classy playmaker within their starting XI at Anfield on Sunday

Thiago Alcantara has to be handed a regular starting role at Liverpool as he remains the most likely source of a “killer pass” in Jurgen Klopp’s squad, says John Aldridge.

The Reds are still waiting on the high-profile summer signing from Bayern Munich to burst into life.

Thiago has, amid unfortunate injury setbacks, spent far longer on the sidelines this season than he or anyone else at Anfield would have liked.

Just five appearances have been taken in as a result, with just two Premier League starts included in that haul.

The Spain international has shown glimpses of what he is capable of when given much-needed game time, with the classy playmaker still considered to have been quite a coup for Klopp.

Aldridge believes the 29-year-old can be a game-changer, with the former Reds striker eager to see Thiago included from the off on a more regular basis – with a home date against old adversaries Manchester United next on the agenda.

Aldridge told the Liverpool Echo amid uncharacteristic struggles for end product from the reigning champions: “The final ball has not been up to our standard in the last few games and that’s what has been letting us down a little bit after we’ve got in behind the defence and are looking to pick someone out.

“I must underline, though, it’s really hard when a team has 10 men behind the ball to do that but you’ve got to see where the ball needs to go and there are ways like putting the ball into areas at the back post.

“Of course, team selection is up to the manager but when you’re thinking about the final ball and picking people out in the 18-yard box – Andy Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have been magnificent for the last few years.

“And from midfield, there is no better player to see that pass than Thiago. That’s his forte.

“Whoever the manager plays in there – we don’t know as he’s got a lot of options – but at the moment he is the one that’ll see that killer pass more than anyone.”

Liverpool could have been knocked from top spot by the time they play host to United, with the chasing pack having closed in on the title holders this season.

Aldridge is expecting a keenly-fought battle for domestic supremacy, with Manchester City also coming back into the mix after taking in a slow start to their 2020-21 campaign.

“City mean business, you can see them putting a serious set of results together,” added Aldridge.

“We expected they would but we’ve dropped our form and we can’t afford to drop many more points.

“We’ve got to get our act together away from home and let the home results look after themselves, which hopefully they will. The lads will realise that.

“This is what Liverpool teams used to do, this group of players have made their own history by winning the Premier League but it’s so hard to replicate it and go on to win it the following year.

“Teams in the past at this club did that, but it’s up to these lads now to raise the bar again. They’re up there with the great Liverpool teams but they’ll be desperate to prove it.

“And if they do it without the likes of Virgil van Dijk at centre-half too, that’ll put them right up the pecking order.”