Football: Guardiola key to Thiago's Bayern move

Bayern Munich's new signing Thiago Alcantara has revealed that the chance to work again with ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was one of his main reasons for joining the European champions.

The 22-year-old completed his transfer from Barcelona to Munich on Monday, having signed a four-year deal with an initial fee of 20 million euros ($26 million), plus an extra five million euros from a future friendly between Bayern and Barcelona.

Thiago, the son of Brazil's midfielder Mazinho, who was part of the Selecao team which won the 1994 World Cup, was given his Barcelona debut in 2009 by Guardiola, who only last Wednesday said "I want Thiago or nobody".

"There aren't many coaches in the world with his ability. He was definitely one of the important reasons for me making the move to Munich," Thiago said of Bayern's new coach.

"On the one hand, there's the history of the club, which has been one of the best in the world for many years.

"On top of that, this team plays very attractive football. And I believe the arrival of Pep Guardiola will provide an additional boost.

"We've known each other for a long time and he's a coach who has placed great faith in me.

"I'm a huge fan of the way he likes football to be played.

"I have to thank him for everything I have achieved in my career."

As he does not speak German, the Spaniard admitted the Munich move is not an easy one, but Thiago will face his former club next week: Bayern host Barcelona at Munich's Allianz Arena on July 24 in a pre-season friendly.

"It's not an easy move, I felt really good at Barcelona, it's my home, but this is a wonderful challenge for me," he said.

Thiago is Bayern's second key addition to their midfield after Germany star Mario Goetze's arrival from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund and means Guardiola faces some tough selection choices.

Thiago will be competing with Goetze, Holland's Arjen Robben, France's Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri for places in the midfield.

"I'll play whereever the coach wants me to," said Thiago, who has been given the number six shirt.

Thiago, whose agent is Guardiola's brother Pere, caught the eye as he captained Spain to their victory at last month's Under-21 European Championship in Israel when he scored a first-half hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Italy in the final.

He is the sixth most expensive transfer in Bundesliga history with the record still held by Javi Martinez, who joined Bayern from Athletic Bilbao for 40 million euros last year.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the competition for places was a good thing for the European champions.

"There's a lot of competition in the squad but that's what we want," said the Munich chief.

Rummenigge also ruled out selling Shaqiri after rumours Premier League side Liverpool are interested in signing the winger.

"We don't want to sell Shaqiri or send him out on loan," he said.

"The coach is very happy with him."

ryj/bc