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    Praised by Jurgen Klopp, loved by Pep Guardiola: From dribbling around shoes as a kid to wanting to copy his father and Brazil legend Mazinho, Thiago Alcantara joins Liverpool as one of the greatest midfielders in the world

    • Thiago Alcantara was once Pep Guardiola’s but will now become Jurgen Klopp’s
    • Liverpool have finally agreed a £25m fee for the Bayern Munich midfield maestro
    • Son of Brazil legend Mazinho, Thiago had framework in place to shine on pitch
    • Pep Guardiola demanded Bayern Munich signed him from Barcelona in 2013 

    Liverpool are set to get their man. A man who was once Pep Guardiola’s will become Jurgen Klopp’s. 

    After months of speculation the Premier League champions finally agreed a £25million fee for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara on Thursday.

    Wayne Rooney claimed that the Spain international joining Liverpool would be a better signing than Manchester City bringing in Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. 

    Liverpool have finally agreed a £25million fee for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara

    A man who was once Pep Guardiola's will be Jurgen Klopp's at Premier League champions

    A man who was once Pep Guardiola’s will be Jurgen Klopp’s at Premier League champions

    Thiago played alongside Messi for four years at the Nou Camp and like the Argentinian he is a special talent.

    Playing the beautiful game is in his blood. Son of Brazil legend Mazinho, Thiago had the perfect framework in place to become a gifted player. Playing the game in a beautiful way is in his DNA.

    His father blessed Brazil’s midfield 35 times and was part of 1994 World Cup-winning side.

    At the tournament Mazinho joined team-mates Bebeto and Romario in the famous baby celebration in their 3-2 victory over Holland. Bebeto was paying tribute to the birth of his son by imitating the rocking of a baby with his arms.

    Mazinho’s eldest Thiago was three at the time. The toddler joined his father at Valencia’s training sessions and after casting an eye over the La Liga side a young Thiago would dribble around shoes acting as cones, with a ball, revealed his mother Valeria Alcantara, a former volleyball player, to ESPN Brazil.

    ‘All he wanted to do was copy his dad,’ she said. ‘He was his hero.’ 

    Thiago’s younger brother Rafinha, who plays at Barcelona, followed in his and their father’s footsteps. 

    ‘They were born with the footballing gene and had the perfect environment to complement that when they were growing up,’ Mazinho told FIFA.com.

    After being surrounded by football during his childhood and playing in Brazilian and Spanish youth teams, moving around to wherever his father’s career took him, Thiago was snapped up by Spanish giants Barcelona at the age of 14.

    On his son’s talent as a teenager ex-midfielder Mazinho told La Voz de Galicia: ‘I have done no more than watch his matches and tell him what worked and didn’t. I don’t know if it’s natural genius, but he and his younger brother have a special co-ordination.’

    Mazinho joined team-mates Bebeto and Romario in the famous baby celebration in 1994

    Mazinho joined team-mates Bebeto and Romario in the famous baby celebration in 1994

    THIAGO HONOURS 

    Champions League x2

    LaLiga x4

    Spanish Cup x2

    Spanish Super Cup x2

    Bundesliga x7

    German Cup x4

    German Super Cup x3

    FIFA Club World Cup x2

    UEFA Super Cup x2 

    U21 Euros x2

    U17 Euros  

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    At the Catalan giants his ‘natural genius’ was harnessed and developed to lead to the creation of one of the best midfielders in the world.

    A product of Barcelona’s highly-rated La Masia academy, Thiago was introduced into the club’s B team just three years after joining and he made his first-team debut at 18.

    By 20, Thiago had emerged into Barcelona’s first team under the tutelage of Guardiola. He lined up alongside the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park. 

    Thiago played in a more attacking midfield role during his four years at Barcelona with the wealth of talent they had in that area. When he broke into the fold at the club he still lacked maturity to his game. But world-class midfielder Xavi knew what he had in his locker.

    ‘I’d advise Thiago to stay patient because he’s a player who is bound to be a success at Barca,’ he said.

    ‘I think he is an extraordinary player. Thiago is not just a player for the future, but he is someone who can make an impact right now as well.’

    The four-time LaLiga winner had to be patient at the Nou Camp and the year Guardiola moved to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, Thiago followed his path.

    Thiago played in a more attacking midfield role during his four years at Barcelona

    Thiago played in a more attacking midfield role during his four years at Barcelona 

    ‘It is either Thiago or nothing,’ Guardiola said in 2013. ‘I know how much potential he has. He is a great player.’ 

    Guardiola demanding a club of Bayern’s stature to sign him made a statement. The manager unlocked the burning talent and desire within him in Germany, ensuring what he did with the ball was to help the team and not just for show.

    ‘He is a courageous player, he is a player that doesn’t know the word fear. He is very brave,’ Guardiola said seven years ago. 

    Thiago won the Champions League with Bayern Munich last season but wanted new challenge

    Thiago won the Champions League with Bayern Munich last season but wanted new challenge

    Thiago had emerged into Barcelona's first team under the tutelage of Guardiola by age of 20

    Thiago had emerged into Barcelona’s first team under the tutelage of Guardiola by age of 20

    Thiago has been an instrumental part in Bayern’s success in recent years, his versatility and ability to adapt from a No 6 to a No 8 and even a No 10 makes him stand out from the rest.

    The 29-year-old has earned 39 international caps for Spain, not Brazil like his father, after growing up in the European country.

    ‘I personally called the CBF asking for information and letting them know that in Spain there were three kids who could be very useful for Brazil’s youth teams: Rodrigo, Thiago and Rafinha,’ Mazinho told El Pais.

    ‘They told me their policy was not to call up players who were outside Brazil. A pity, not for my sons, but for the quality that the three had.’

    Brazil’s loss is Spain’s gain. And now with Thiago in the final year of his contract in Germany and wanting a new challenge, Liverpool are set to take advantage. 

    ‘Thiago is an extraordinary player and was very important for us,’ Bayern boss Hansi Flick said of Thiago’s departure. ‘My coaching team and I enjoyed working with him. It was very emotional as we said goodbye. I can only congratulate Liverpool as they got a great player and especially a great person.’

    Liverpool boss Klopp has been a fan of Thiago's for some time and now he has got his man

    Liverpool boss Klopp has been a fan of Thiago’s for some time and now he has got his man

    Manchester City manager Guardiola will be fearing what Thiago will do for his rivals

    Manchester City manager Guardiola will be fearing what Thiago will do for his rivals

    The midfield maestro can give Liverpool a new dimension, that guile and craft that is sometimes lacking in the central areas of the pitch. Klopp’s side could improve by finding that player to unlock a defence in an instant with an incisive pass. The forward-thinking Thiago can enhance the champions in that way. 

    Klopp has been a fan of Thiago’s for some time, calling him the best player in the Bundesliga alongside Naby Keita when the latter arrived in 2018.   

    ‘Naby was two years ago, together with maybe Thiago Alcantara of Bayern, for sure the best player in the Bundesliga by far,’ he told the Liverpool Echo.

    Now Keita and Thiago could line up alongside each other in Liverpool’s midfield three. 

    Praised and loved by two of the best managers in the world. Klopp will be bursting with joy at Liverpool’s latest acquisition while Guardiola will be fearing what Thiago will do for his rivals.



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