Just three days after new coach Pep Guardiola outlined a simple summer shopping list - "either Thiago, or nothing" - Bayern Munich have made his wish come true. The Spanish star is switching from Barcelona to Bavaria.
Bayern Munich announced on the club website on Sunday evening that 22-year-old Thiago Alcantara would be moving to Munich. The Spaniard would join for an agreed transfer fee of 25 million euros ($32.65 million), albeit with Bayern paying only 20 million euros in hard currency. The remainder of the fee, according to Bayern, would be generated by a friendly match and by Thiago waiving some of his outstanding salary entitlements from the Catalan club.
"Thiago Alcantara was the great desire of our new coach Pep Guardiola," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "We are happy to have completed this major transfer. Thiago was just named the best player of the U21 European Championships. He is a fantastic player with great potential who will strengthen FC Bayern."
Thiago captained the Spanish U21 team to victory in the European Championships in Israel this summer. He scored a hat trick in their 4-2 final victory over Italy.
During his time as Barcelona coach, Guardiola pulled Thiago up into the reserve outfit at 16 years of age. Around two years later, he let him debut with the senior side. The 22-year-old Spaniard was held in high regard at Barcelona, considered the natural candidate to steer the midfield once 33-year-old string-puller Xavi took a back seat.
'Either Thiago, or nothing'
Guardiola made his wishes regarding Thiago crystal clear in a press conference on Thursday, during a discussion where his comments on Barcelona's management drew more attention in Spain.
"Either Thiago, or nothing," Guardiola said when asked about his transfer wish list. "I have asked Kalle [Rummenigge] and Matthias [Sammer]. They know that I want this player."
Guardiola spoke of Thiago's versatility, saying he could effectively act anywhere in a modern midfield. He promised that: "If Thiago comes, it will be good for us, not just for me." Like the Bayern Munich coach, Thiago employs Pep's brother Pere Guardiola as his agent.
As a member of two of the world's top teams, Barcelona and Spain, Thiago already has a trophy cabinet that would make most veterans blush. He has four top-division league titles from his years at Barca, along with the 2011 Champions League, two domestic cup trophies and other accolades. With the Spanish youth setup, Thiago has won the 2013 and 2011 U21 European Championships, as well as clinching the U17 Euros in 2008. He also has three caps with the Spanish senior side, having debuted in 2011.
It's in the blood
Born in Italy, Thiago moved to Spain aged five and ultimately took up citizenship.
His father, Mazinho, was a member of Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning squad. His younger brother, Rafael, is following in his footsteps with Barcelona's reserves, while his mother was a professional volleyball player. Thiago's cousin, Rodrigo, is a star striker with Lisbon outfit Benfica.
The newcomer joins a midfield that oozes class, and might struggle for a regular starting spot. Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Mario Götze, Luiz Gustavo, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos - all established international stars - are just some of the other names vying for five slots in Guardiola's midfield.
Bayern continued its preseason campaign in style this weekend, having returned from its training camp on Lake Garda in Italy on Friday. Bayern put six unanswered goals past lower-league Grossaspach on Saturday and followed that with a 4-0 win over Hansa Rostock in a charity game on Sunday. Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery and Mario Mandzukic scored the goals. Under Guardiola, who replaced Jupp Heynckes this summer, Bayern have played six friendlies and won them all.