New Bayern Munich signing Thiago Alcantara says it was former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola who convinced him to sign for the Bundesliga champions. The 22-year-old Catalan completed a €25m move from the Nou Camp to the Allianz Arena earlier this month.
"I played under him in the [Barcelona] youth team and I've got him to thank for everything I have achieved so far. He's unique. After the European Under-21 Championship, I spoke with Guardiola on the phone and, after that, I decided to come to Bayern," the midfielder said.
Alcantara, who captained his country to glory in the recently concluded European U21 Championships, believes he is moving to the only side comparable to Barcelona. The Bavarians beat the Catalans (an astonishing 7-0 on aggregate) en route to the Champions League crown last season.
"It's a special city with a particular flair. There's a real passion for football in the city. There are few teams as strong as Bayern and Barcelona. This is a fantastic side. I'm just looking forward to playing with every single one of them," he continued.
"I'm fit and ready. Barcelona have some exceptional players and they've all wished me lots of luck and all the best, but I'm ready to face my former team-mates," Thiago concluded, touching on the friendly between the two clubs on 24 July. The game will take place in Munich and is part of the agreement taking the player to Germany.
Meanwhile, German international Toni Kroos has sought to calm speculation surrounding his future at Bayern Munich, following the twin arrivals of Mario Götze and Thiago Alcantara. The three occupy similar positions - high up in the attacking third - and with Thiago a favourite of Guardiola's and Götze a mega-money signing, first team chances for the 23-year-old may be hard to come by.
Kroos made 30 appearances across all competitions last season, scoring nine goals and creating eight more.
"It's Pep's job to assign Thiago to a position. I think he's a very good footballer and good footballers are always welcome. In a team which has so much quality, a few very, very good players will have to sit on the bench, just like last season," he told German newspaper Die Tageszeitung.