Thiago Alcantara is already the name on everybody’s lips at Manchester United and he has now been named the Player of of the Tournament for the U21 European Championship in Israel.
The 22-year-old midfielder was Spain’s captain in their tournament winning campaign with his hat-trick in the final being the highlight of the whole competition for many.
“As captain of the title winners, Thiago displayed leadership qualities on and off the pitch,” said UEFA’s panel.
“And, throughout the tournament, was an influential figure in his team’s performance with impressive box-to-box work; exceptional ball control even in the tightest of situations; ability to dictate the tempo of play; intelligent ball-winning based on anticipation rather than tackling; and outstanding playmaking skills based on a wide variety of short and long passing.
“His three goals in the final represented a unique individual achievement and reward for his contributions to his team’s success.”
Thiago’s hat-trick in the final was text book; a header, left footed shot and penalty all oozed confidence from a midfielder who was in a rich vein of form all tournament when he knew the spotlight was on him.
Given that it was in a major international final, his hat-trick was even more impressive and it showed just why Barcelona are so desperate to hold onto a player they may lose due to their own carelessness after a lack of game time activated his €18 million release clause.
It is hard for United fans not to get carried away at the thought of Thiago in a red shirt next season given the rumours that are growing in strength with each passing day.
And the 22-year-old’s Player of the Tournament trophy is likely to be the first of many individual accolades in what could be an illustrious career if he follows in his father Mazinho’s footsteps, a player who won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil.
Let’s just hope those accolades can be won at United.