Born Offside named Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara as the best player at the Under-21 European Championship. Now we take a closer look at the Spanish dynamo….

When a dwarfish Spaniard ambled towards the dead ball and smashed home the free-kick from 40 yards to secure the Under-21 European Championship for Spain, the world knew they had a player.

Barcelona have known for some time that Thiago Alcantara would be another gem in the La Masia crown. He made his debut at 18 and was set to carry on the work of the Catalans home grown stars, but Thiago could yet leave his beloved Barca.

The midfielder has been forced to bide his time on the bench for long periods since joining the first-team fold, after all who could shift the passing machine that is Xavi and Iniesta.

Although he is just 20, Thiago is ambitious and would be willing to leave the Camp Nou to further his career.

“I would be lying if I said that my dream is to succeed at Barca,” he said.

“My dream is to succeed in football. I want to be a player who people remember for ever.”

And we might remember him that long, he is that good. Although sometimes a little careless in possession when compared with his illustrious Barca teammates, he is quicker and more skillful with a slight arrogance forged at La Masia. He turns sharply, plays everything off the outside of his boot. He is eye-catching, different, special.

His man of the match performance against Switzerland in the Under-21 European Championship cemented his place as the most talented youngster of his generation. In fact his tournament from start to finish was flawless, he picked up three man of the match awards overall as Spain conquered all before them.

He was key as Spain won the Under-17 European Championship in 2008 and finished runners-up in the Under-19 competition two years later. A senior call-up is predicted although those dastardly duo of Xavi and Iniesta may halt his progress at international level too.

And while his fledgling Spain career has been spectacular his time with Barca has been frustrating. Just 17 appearances last season in all competitions tells its own story and with the Catalans intent on bringing Cesc Fabregas back to the Nou Camp, Thiago may have more frustration ahead.

Barcelona don’t need Fabregas they have Thiago Alcantara.

He’s the new: Wesley Sneijder

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