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By ESPN Staff

Thiago gets Spain call

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque handed a first call-up to Thiago Alcantara when naming his squad for next Wednesday's friendly against Italy in Bari.

Barcelona midfielder Thiago, 20, was born in Italy but moved to Spain as a child before going on to represent his adopted country at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 levels.

As the son of 1994 Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, there has been recent criticism over Brazil's failure to call up Thiago, who helped Spain win the Under-21 European Championships. A spokesman for the Brazilian football federation (CBF) told Marca on Thursday: "Of course he would be of interest to [Brazil coach] Mano Menezes. Every Brazilian player has the chance to play for the Selecao."

However, he has now been given his first senior call-up to the Spanish national side and Del Bosque said: "Thiago is here on sporting merit. Thiago grew up in Spain and has football roots here. Now he can choose which team he'll play for. The first official game is binding."

Mazinho added on Punto Radio: "I would have liked Thiago to play for Brazil but it wouldn't have been just. He grew up at Barca and in Spain."

The 22-man squad features a recall for Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo, but the likes of Barcelona's Carles Puyol, Benfica's Joan Capdevila and Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal miss out.

Squad: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona); Alvaro Arbeloa , Raul Albiol, Sergio Ramos (all Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao); Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Thiago Alcantara, Xavi (all Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), David Silva (Manchester City); David Villa, Pedro Rodriguez (both Barcelona), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Juan Mata (Valencia).


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