MADRID - Barcelona midfielder Thiago
Alcantara has earned the chance to make his Spain debut in Italy
on Wednesday after eye-catching performances for club and
country, Andres Iniesta said on Monday.
Vicente del Bosque called up the 20-year-old for the world
champions' friendly in Bari and the absence of the injured Xavi
and Cesc Fabregas have increased his chances of winning a first
"He's very young but he has demonstrated he has more than
enough quality," Iniesta, scorer of Spain's winning goal in last
year's World Cup final, told reporters.
"He is extremely talented considering how young he is and it
is for this reason the coach has opted to call him up."
Thiago was named man of the match after helping Spain win
the European Under-21 championship in Denmark in June, an
audacious 40-metre free-kick catching the Switzerland goalkeeper
off his line to seal a 2-0 final victory.
He went on to light up Barca's pre-season with goals against
the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United, prompting
debates over the need for the club to continue their
multi-million euro pursuit of Arsenal captain Fabregas.
The man Fabregas and Thiago are seen as natural successors
to, 31-year-old Spain and Barca playmaker Xavi, has also been
"He has these sparks that will give us a lot this season,"
Xavi said recently. "He has endless talent."
Thiago was born near Bari in Italy and his father is former
Brazil international Mazinho, who has a World Cup winner's medal
from the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.
He joined the Barca youth system aged 14 in 2005, made his
first-team debut as an 18-year-old in 2009 and possesses the
touch and vision that has become the hallmark of players groomed
through the club's renowned academy.
After two more seasons with the B team, making occasional
appearances with the senior side, Thiago was rewarded with a
first-team contract for the start of the 2011/12 La Liga season,
when the European champions extended his deal to 2015.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola has been keen to try and play down
the euphoria surrounding the youngster.
"He's in one of these moments where every time he shoots the
ball goes in, but softly, softly, softly," Guardiola said on the
club's Tour of the United States.
"All types of excess are bad. He is very young, has a lot of
ability, but still has a lot of room for improvement."
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