Niko Kovac has heaped praise on Thiago Alcantara, saying the Bayern Munich and Spain midfielder does everything a coach could possibly wish for.
Only Joshua Kimmich (47), Robert Lewandowski (46) and David Alaba (42) made more appearances in all competitions last season than Thiago (41), who has won six successive Bundesliga titles since being brought to Bayern from Barcelona by Pep Guardiola in summer 2013.
For Kovac, the 28-year-old is the undisputed beating heart of the Bayern midfield.
"What can I say about Thiago? He’s a top player! He was sensational last season," said Bayern’s head coach told the assembled media at the club’s USA summer tour.
"We’ve got a massive pool of exceptional midfielders, but he’s the heartbeat of our midfield, a player who can do everything with the ball.
"He can speed up the game, slow it down - he thinks like a coach. That’s what every coach wants."
Watch: How Thiago pull the strings for Bayern Munich
The statistics illustrate Kovac’s point. No midfielder boasted more than Thiago’s 2,916 touches in 2018/19, while he found a man with 93 per cent of his attempted passes.
For the most part, Thiago operated in a No.6 role, setting the tempo and acting as the team’s creative outlet from deep. It is a position he enjoys.
"I feel most comfortable in defensive or central midfield, but I play wherever the coach wants me to. I’d even play in goal [laughs].
"At the end of the day, I’m here to help, to make the team better."