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Thiago Alcântara is realising his potential

Wednesday 29th March 2017
In 2013 Bayern Munich secured the services of Barcelona's highly rated prospect Thiago Alcântara. The move was seen as a big coup for the Germans. In turn, Thiago was seen as one of the brightest young stars both in Spain and across Europe. Finally, almost 4 years on, he is starting to fulfill those high expectations.
In the 2012/13 season, Alcântara averaged just 52 minutes playing time per league game for Barcelona, with 27 appearances in total, many from the bench. Such sparse playing time lowered his release clause, rumoured to be around £20million, including add-ons. A very reasonable price indeed for such a highly regarded prospect in the modern market. It seemed inevitable some club would snap at such an opportunity.

That club was Bayern Munich, then managed by Pep Guardiola. Coach and player linked up again after getting on so well during Thiago's early development at the Nou Camp. Barcelona had lost a very bright star. Guardiola, consensus went, had certainly got one over on his old club.

However, the Catalan didn't quite draw the best from the playmaker during his time in Germany. Injuries and a glut of midfield talent saw Thiago drift in and out of Bayern's side for three seasons. Suddenly, the boy labelled heir to Xavi wasn't all he was cracked up to be.

However, under new boss Carlo Ancelotti, with an overdue clean bill of health, Thiago has begun to thrive. His Champions League form this season has been particularly mouth-watering. The central midfield conductor for Arsenal's demolition in two parts was none other than Thiago. Two Goals at Allianz Arena and a starring role at the Emirates showed his class well and truly.

He is starting to deliver on his promise, on the biggest stage, as well. Thiago's arrival is timely for a Spanish national side in generational transition. Xavi is already gone, Xabi Alonso is retiring, and Andrés Iniesta is rapidly losing his influence.

Labelled next in line among Spanish midfield greats after a stunning display in the 2013 U21 Euros, prior to his move from Barcelona, the nation began expecting him to one day take up the midfield mantle so key to the Spanish game. Since then, the midfielder has won just 17 caps for country, struggling to dislodge those who have long pulled the strings for Spain. This season's performances have at last seen him gain recognition with the national team. After playing just 26 minutes at Euro 2016, new boss Julen Loptegui has been giving him prime playing time in World Cup qualifiers. Alcântara is repaying his faith.
Thiago's form has been of such a high standard this season, Barcelona is understood to be trying to re-sign him. Bayern don't seem keen on permitting a reunion. The reported asking price is near £80 million. Who could blame them after such a prominent season for the soon to be 26-year-old? It's been his best season in senior football, made possible by backing from both club and national manager, an injury free run, and continued game time. There's no reason why he can't kick on, going from strength to strength.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.

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