Report: Thiago appears to be the latest La Masia graduate who will be making his mark in Barcelona. He didn't get to play as much as he, or the fans, wanted to, but Pep Guardiola will try to slowly integrate him into the first team.
Most of Thiago's opportunities came in the early stages of Copa del Rey and in the final rounds of La Liga, after Barcelona secured their third consecutive domestic title. When you see a young, 20 year old midfielder on the pitch they are often lost and they don't know what they are supposed to do, but Thiago has everything sorted out. Sometimes he might appear cocky in interviews, but on the pitch he is brilliant. His ball control is almost Xavi-like and his passing range is simply breathtaking.
Thiago lacks playing time and experience before he can be realistically viewed as some have been saying as Xavi's replacement, but the young man certainly has potential to do so. The composure with the ball, the dribbling, the passing, it's all there but Thiago might have a better long range shot than his established teammate has.
To end the 2010/11 season Thiago not only helped but led Spain U-21 to a European Championship triumph. He played the same role as Xavi does with Barcelona and whenever the team needed a boost or a big play they always turned to Thiago who on most occasions delivered. He was the Man of the Match in two of the five matches he played in, including the final of the tournament. He scored one goal in Denmark, a stunning 40 yards free kick that caught Switzerland's goalkeeper of the line and sealed the victory for Spain.
Moment of the season: Thiago wasn't on the pitch much with Barcelona, but everytime he was there all eyer were on him to show something spectacular. However, the most spectacular moment came in the final of the U-21 European Championship with Spain when Thiago scored from 40 yards to extend the lead to 2-0, which turned out to be the final score.
Spain 2-0 Switzerland (Thiago) AMAZING GOAL - U.21 European Championship Final 2011 (via SamKingCole)
Stats: (first team only)
|Started on the bench||17
|Shots on goal||9
Record with Thiago in the starting lineup: 8-1-1
2011/12 Outlook: Speculations arose if there will be room for Thiago on the team if/when Cesc Fabregas arrives, but with an improved deal in hand the youngster appears to be set to play more minutes than ever in Barcelona colors. He is not ready to be a starter yet, but with more time on the pitch he should earn valuable experience that will help him in the future which will be with Barca's first team.
Next up: Ibrahim Afellay
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