In recent years, Spanish clubs have been producing midfield talent in abundance. And no club has produced better talent, in quantity or quality, than Barcelona.
With the help of their famed academy – La Masia, the Catalans have affirmed their status as the best in unearthing supreme talent.
However, with the riches the Blaugrana already have in their ranks, many players fail to get noticed at the Nou Camp.
One such player is their young midfielder Thiago Alcantara.
Even though he has impressed time and time again for his club, playing time has been hard to come by due to the direct competition for starting places with players such as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.
And as a consequence, one just gets the feeling that Thiago has to move to a new club in order to fulfill his full potential.
Here’s why top Premier League sides should be trying to sign the Spaniard.
Last season, Thiago started 15 matches for the Blaugrana, with a further 12 appearances from the bench. And even in these limited appearances, Thiago still managed five assists and more than 1700 completed passes in La Liga.
And his range of passing and peripheral vision is what has been sorely lacking in many Premier League clubs throughout last season. To accentuate just how impressive Thiago’s season was, we compare the Spaniard’s statistics with those of highly rated midfielders such as Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who play in similar roles.
Even though he has started fewer matches, the Barcelona man has completed far more passes than Wilshere or Cleverley. Whereas Thiago completes an average of 65 passes per game, the other two find themsleves lagging behind, at less than 50 completed passes per game. Thiago’s pass success rate is also impressive at 91%, and has all the makings for being a top orchestrator of the game for various Premier League sides. Thiago’s ability to producing through balls and long balls for launching counter attacks has also been found to be superior to those of either Wilshere or Cleverley.
And if he was impressive for Barcelona, he has been even more so for the Spain under-21s in the ongoing European championships.
At liberty to control the pace of the game to his liking (as a result of the absence of Xavi and Iniesta), Thiago has excelled and has been one of the best players in the tournament so far. In three matches so far, he has produced a mind-boggling 27 accurate long balls, 240 passes, one assist and has a passing accuracy of 93%, with only Italy’s Marco Verratti having statistics that even come close to comparison with those of the Spaniard. As Spain look to land another European under-21 title, many people will be keeping a watch on their captain who really has led from the front.
A classical schemer of the mould of Thiago was what many Premier League teams lacked over the course of the last season, with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and even champions Manchester United often found to be short of ideas in midfield.
The solution to this problem could be Thiago, as he both has the attributes as well as the quality to fit in seamlessly with any of these teams.
A supreme passer who is also adept at holding onto the ball as well as dribbling past opposition, Thiago also does not shirk his defensive responsibilities, and has always supplemented Sergio Busquets in the holding midfield for Barcelona. If he continues his current form (and he has not given any indications of not doing so), he would also be an upgrade to most of the players who ply their trade in the centre of the park in Premier League’s top teams.
And with the player likely to come for less than £20 million, he could represent the ultimate transfer coup for many Premier League sides. Manchester United seem the most likely side to be interested in the youngster - after recent reports have suggested David Moyes will enter the market for the Spaniard.
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