Spain international Thiago Alcantara always knew he’d choose Bayern Munich when he left Barcelona, even though his countryman David De Gea tried to lure him to Manchester United.
Thiago, 24, trained and learned the game of football at Barca’s famed La Masia academy, but when the son of Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho moved on from the Catalans in 2013, he knew where he wanted to play.
“David De Gea wanted me to join [Man United],” Thiago told the Daily Mail. “He wrote a message on my match ball after we’d beaten Italy in the final [of the 2013 U21 Euro]. But I’d have done the same with him. He is one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world. You always want to play with the best. But it was always going to be Munich.”
Now finding a spot back in Pep Guardiola’s dominant Bundesliga outfit after returning from injury, Thiago remembers the lessons he learned from Barca greats like Xavi, as well as recalling what his father taught him about football as a child.
“Xavi was my mirror,” Thiago said. “By doing simple things he would make great things happen. He was the one who helped give Barcelona the greatest moments. You will never find another like him.
“I was created in Barcelona and every midfielder has to touch the ball. You develop your own skills but the one thing you have to do is move the ball.
“[My father] is everything to me. Ronaldinho is my favourite player, Pep has been huge in my development but, without my father, there would be nothing. I remember playing when I was a child. The other fathers would be on the touchline shouting, screaming. But my father would just sit and watch and afterwards he would say something small. A little bit of advice but nothing more.
“Whenever I got a chance to watch him train, I never missed it. He was my idol. I knew how a footballer should be on the pitch and I knew how he should be at home.”
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