It always pains me to be writing about the departure of a canterano, a player who came up through the youth system of the club. Thiago (pictured above with fellow canterano Messi and good friend Ronaldinho) appeared more than 100 times for Barca B before he was promoted to the first team in 2001.
The fact that during 6 seasons in the first team he only managed 138 appearances tells its own story about his misfortunes. It wasn't that he lacked talent. Far from it. In fact, Rijkaard has repeatedly said that he sees himself in the characteristics of the young Brazilian, which is high praise indeed. If you're reading my blog, you probably don't need reminding of Rijkaard's excellence as a player.
In retrospect, the comparison takes on a sort of tragicomic quality. Poor old Thiago was the Barca player most often slated for a bad performance by the fans, along with Oleguer (although they appreciated his fighting spirit). That was when he managed to get on the pitch, and stay there. The last qualification is necessary because he has an impressive habit of picking up red cards, often through little fault of his own, although he does have a formidable temper. The two occasions I remember best were both plain old bad luck - one featured a swan dive and a great acting performance from Diego Milito, and the other resulted from two bookings, both of which originated from fouls committed by other players:
(From another article by Sid Lowe): He got the first yellow for a foul on Valeron, which was actually committed by Cocu. And Motta, the No. 23, got his second and a red for another foul on Valeron, committed by Oleguer, who ever-so-confusingly wears 32.Make no mistake, he is a very talented player. Ironically enough, he was probably closest to the ideal holding midfielder who could both pass and tackle that Barca have been looking for until Yaya Toure came along. Thiago has turned in some great performances for the team in the past, including significant contributions towards Barca's Champions League win in 05-06. However, I believe the club eventually lost confidence in him due to his far too frequent injury spells. In the Rijkaard era, no matter how much Frank liked him, he was simply unavailable for selection far too many times.
Thiago Motta will be missed at Barca, especially by the Central and South American faction of the Barca dressing room, to whom he was a great friend. I will borrow the words of his most earnest champion while he was at the club - Frank Rijkaard himself - to wish him luck for the future:
Motta "can be a success in any team", the coach said. "He is a player with a lot of talent and great possibilities. I hope that this change will do him good."