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Trophies and talent - 15.07.2013

Introducing star signing Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara has already shown off his skills at the Allianz Arena, but it did Bayern little good at the time. Two years ago, in the final of the Audi Cup, the attacking midfielder scored twice as Barcelona defeated Germany's biggest club. Afterwards, then FCB boss Jupp Heynckes predicted that the youngster would become one of the future stars of European football. “He's a fantastic player with huge potential," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge declared on Sunday after Bayern secured the services of Thiago Alcantara do Nascimento for the next four years.

“He's a super, super player," said Pep Guardiola of his number one transfer target, “he can fill three, four or five positions in midfield. I think he'll be good for us." The new FCB coach knows Thiago from his time at Barcelona, when he promoted the then 16-year-old to the Catalans’ reserve team. He also handed Thiago his senior debut two years later.

Boundless quality

Now 22, the player is technically able, good on the ball, an accurate passer, and has a real nose for goal. He hit the headlines a few weeks ago at the U-21 European championship, captaining Spain, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory over Italy in the final, and coming away with the player of the tournament award. His versatility proved an ace in the Spanish pack, as he played both on the left and the right of a three-man midfield, and also as a false nine in the central attacking area.

The U-21 European championship trophy was by no means the first Thiago has lifted, despite his relatively short time in the pro game. The 22-year-old already boasts 14 winner’s medals, comprising the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2011, plus the Spanish league titles in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, the Spanish cup in 2009 and 2012, and the Super Cup in 2010 and 2011, all with Barcelona. In national colours, he also won the U-21 EURO in 2011 and the U-17 European championship three years earlier.

Sport in his blood

Thiago, who hails from the small Italian resort of San Pietro Vernotico, was born with sporting talent in his genes. His father is Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, and his mother was a pro volleyball player. His younger brother Rafael plays for the Barcelona second team, and his cousin Rodrigo is on the books with Benfica in Lisbon. He arrived in Spain with his family at the age of five and ultimately chose to play for his adopted home country, winning his first full cap in 2011. Soon, and with a little bit of luck, he will be calling Munich his second home.

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