Sorry for polluting the site with yet another Thiago orientated article, but I thought of mine first :P
Thiago Alcantara is now a European Champion, and was the scorer of the final goal, as Spain triumphed 2-0 against Switzerland in the European Championship final. At under 21 level that is.
Still the obsession with Cesc Fabregas continues. Why? In Thiago, Barcelona have the better player.
I’m not talking potential-wise here, or because of the cost involved in signing Cesc.
I genuinely believe that Thiago is a better player than Fabregas now, in the present day.
Right then, finished thinking of reasons why I’m wrong? Because I’ve got a couple of my own, for why Fabregas can only wish to be as good as Thiago.
The Spanish side at this under 21 tournament are being captained by Athletic Bilbao’s, Javi Martinez. Martinez is a great player, and has played very well, but make no mistake, the leader of that side is Thiago.
On Wednesday, Spain found themselves a goal down versus Belarus. It was getting late, all hope looked lost, Spain needed to fashion a chance. Who did they pass the ball to?
Every time Spain won possession, or got into the offensive third, they found Thiago. This was the man they trusted, the man they knew had the talent to fashion a chance from nothing. Note, the first pass almost always went to Thiago, not World Cup winners Juan Mata, or Javi Martinez.
In Thiago, they had the closest thing to Xavi, the fulcrum of the senior side. In Thiago, they had hope.
In Thiago, they had the equaliser.
It was the 89th minute, and Spain were all but out, until Thiago played a defence splitting ball to his Barcelona teammate, Jeffren. Of course, Jeffren still had a lot to do, and he delivered as well, but Thiago’s vision, confidence and passing ability made that goal happen.
Emphasis on confidence there.
One of Xavi’s best qualities is his confidence. So many times I have read people criticising Xavi, saying they don’t like him because of his arrogance. He says Barcelona are the best, they deliver, he plays with a swagger, and he delivers. That isn’t arrogance, that’s ability.
Now look at Thiago. He is fairly outspoken too. Not only has he annoyed England with his comments, but also the Barcelona faithful, with comments regarding his future. This doesn’t bother me, as he transfers that confidence onto the pitch.
For Barcelona, this confidence has proven his downfall on occasion, but he has taken it onboard, and during these Championships, he has excelled, and looked mature, calm, composed...world class.
The composure he showed us in the semi-final was terrific, the confidence he showed in the final was sublime. Having just made a substitute, Spain had a free-kick just inside the Swiss half. Everyone expected a pass, and rightly so, but with Thiago, you can expect the unexpected.
The man of the match saw the keeper off his line, and went for the top corner. The audacity to attempt it was there, and the sheer class to pull it off, was also there. Talent in abundance, Thiago had won the European Championship, as man of the match, with a goal from 50 yards.
Similarly, Fabregas is considered the leader of the Arsenal team, both literally as captain, and influence on the pitch, as he is their "go-to guy". Now, he is a great player, but does he deliver?
Well, he did, but now, with his mind elsewhere – Barcelona – he is slipping. Fabregas is still a good player, but the Arsenal players are beginning to lose confidence in their skipper, and the fans are following suit. While Arsenal were playing their last game of the season away at Craven Cottage, Cesc was living it up, back in Barcelona, watching the Spanish Grand Prix.
On the pitch, I am of the opinion that Fabregas is better at shooting, and scores more goals, but is not as good a passer as Thiago, whose range is magnificent. Fabregas is the leader of Arsenal, but he is not the fulcrum. Lately that has been the role of Jack Wilshere.
Also in Thiago’s favour is his performance in the big games. When called upon by Guardiola, Thiago has excelled. For proof, watch the second game versus Villarreal, were Thiago was exceptional. Fabregas cannot boast as good a showing this season. For proof there, watch his mistake in the game he was meant to perform, against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Now, did Fabregas atone for this in the matches he played versus the traditional "big four"? Nope, nor did he perform against Manchester City, or in the North London Derby.
No doubt the Arsenal fans will attempt to torrefy me and say that he was the one who played through the pass to Iniesta. Blah, blah, blah, if he was so good, he would have started the game.
So, this is why Fabregas is only valued at £30 million, and even that is a stretch, because in Thiago, they have the player they need, one who can replace Xavi, before becoming a legend in his own right. All while Fabregas goes down as the guy who passed to Andres Iniesta.