Thiago Alcantara joins Liverpool to embark on a new chapter of a career that has seen the midfielder reach the heights of the European and global game with previous clubs FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich.
Indeed, the Spain international has sealed his move to Merseyside just 26 days after hoisting aloft the Champions League trophy as an integral member of Bayern’s 2019-20 treble-winning squad.
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Now, the 29-year-old will bring his blend of technique, athleticism and winning mentality to Anfield, where Thiago is set to wear the No.6 jersey.
Here, we take a look at Thiago’s football journey so far…
Born Thiago Alcantara do Nascimento in Italy on April 11, 1991, both of his parents are Brazilian and from a sporting background; his mother a professional volleyball player, his father the 1994 World Cup winner Mazinho.
Besotted by football from his earliest years, Thiago’s ties with Spain – the country he later opted to represent at international level – were forged by Mazinho’s transfers, including a four-year spell at Celta Vigo between 1996 and 2000.
Two separate stints in Flamengo’s youth ranks bookended experience with local Spanish teams for Thiago as the family criss-crossed from Brazil to Europe while he simultaneously developed his precocious talents on the pitch.
Foundations for his professional career were eventually laid at Barcelona and he joined the La Liga club’s fabled La Masia academy in 2005 before debuting for the first team under Pep Guardiola four years later, just weeks after his 18th birthday.
Thiago’s task was daunting for any emerging player: break into a masterful Barça side consistently playing some of the most attractive, fluid and successful football of the modern era.
But by 2010-11, he’d started to complete that objective.
The midfielder featured a dozen times as Guardiola’s team chalked up a third consecutive domestic title triumph, and once in the Champions League – as well as being an unused substitute in the final – when Barcelona lifted Old Big Ears for a second time in three seasons.
With his precision close control, invention, agility and natural ability to play a high-tempo game, Thiago was a stylistic match for the Barça philosophy installed by Guardiola.
And he steadily became a more regular presence in the side, clocking up 43 and 36 appearances in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively, helping them reclaim La Liga in the latter campaign.
Thiago had also been enhancing his reputation as part of Spain’s U21 team, playing a pivotal role as his country clinched back-to-back U21 European Championship honours in 2011 and 2013.
He netted a 40-yard free-kick in the 2011 final against Switzerland and, two years later, bagged a hat-trick when Italy were defeated 4-2 in the showpiece to confirm his status as UEFA’s Player of the Tournament.
Thiago was also on the move that summer.
Guardiola was now at the helm of Bayern and had made clear his desire to recruit his former player for the Bavarians, with a deal agreed and the switch completed in July 2013.
‘Trophy-laden’ does not quite do justice to Thiago’s time in Germany.
He collected a Bundesliga winner’s medal in each and every one of the seven seasons he spent with Bayern, lifted the German cup on four occasions, and added another FIFA Club World Cup – including a goal in the 2013 final – to the one previously won with Barcelona.
Those glories tasted all the sweeter after the midfielder – who has to date amassed 39 caps and scored two goals for Spain – recovered from multiple knee injuries that robbed a year of his career between March 2014 and April 2015.
And he signed off from Bayern in spectacular fashion last term with a treble of Bundesliga title, German cup and a comprehensive Champions League triumph.
Thiago and co beat Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate, thrashed his former side Barcelona 8-2, saw off Lyon 3-0 and then overcame Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the final to bring his former club level with his new one on six European Cups.
A metronomic figure in the middle of the park, the No.6 was widely praised for his influential performances and was later named in UEFA’s Champions League Squad of the Season.
He ended his time in Munich with a total of 235 appearances and 31 goals.
Thiago – who speaks fluent English – told The Telegraph last September: “I think every year I have got better and better and I’m reaching the best moment of my career. But I think I have a lot of years to make it even better.
“In the end it is about work. Work to be more intelligent, to think faster than your opponent and think faster than I thought last year.”
A long-time admirer of English football and, indeed, the Liverpool side being built by Jürgen Klopp at Anfield, now he’ll bring that mindset to the Reds having signed a long-term contract with the club.