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Close to 100 percent

Thiago: The best decision of my life

A new country, a new language, a new footballing culture, and new team-mates. Everything was basically new for Thiago Alcántara when he left Barcelona for a fresh adventure in Munich. He started promisingly with some fine displays in friendly matches, but there was a shock in store: Thiago picked up a serious ankle injury on Matchday 3 against Nürnberg and was forced to the sidelines for three months.

The Spaniard made a comeback against Dortmund in late November, making an immediate contribution to FCB’s 3-0 win after coming on as a sub. The 22-year-old has now started the last three matches for his new club and has made a fine impression, with no obvious hangover from the long injury lay-off. “I’m working on my fitness every day,” he said on Monday prior to the Champions League showdown against Manchester City. “I think I’m close to 100 percent.”

It is great news for the treble winners, as the agile and inventive Thiago reads the game brilliantly and adds yet anther dimension to the Reds’ play. “I’m very pleased with his recent performances,” commented Pep Guardiola, “it’s not easy when you’ve been out for such a long time with injury and suddenly have to play so many games.“

Versatile and creative

The long injury list at the club in recent weeks has meant the likes of Thiago, Martínez and Mario Götze being pitched in at the deep end with barely a chance to re-acclimatise to match conditions. All have done incredibly well, and although Thiago still has plenty of room to improve and adapt to the game in Germany, “he’s a smart young player,” Guardiola noted.

The coach especially values his fellow countryman’s versatility. “He can play three positions in midfield, and even filled in at full-back in Barcelona.“ He has mainly appeared in defensive midfield for FCB. Thiago himself doesn’t mind where he plays - “in goal if I have to“ - because what matters to him is being in the first team. “I’m delighted to be here and enjoy the way we play our football.”

Aiming high

Nowadays, Thiago says he feels “at home” in Munich: “It’s really fantastic.“ The Spaniard even described joining Bayern in the summer as “the best decision of my life” after choosing the Bavarians ”because the image of the club is so good. The players are outstanding. And I know this superb coach from Barcelona.“

The player is now setting his sights high for the weeks and months ahead. The diminutive Spaniard is convinced of one thing: “Our greatest strength is mixing the German style of going for it for the full 90 minutes with the Pep way of playing.“