Thiago Motta

Thiago Motta (Brazilian Portuguese: [tʃiˈaɡu ˈmɔtɐ]; Italian: [ˈtjaːɡo ˈmɔtta]; born 28 August 1982) is a professional football manager and former player who played as a midfielder.

Thiago Motta
Motta playing for PSG in 2016
Personal information
Full name Thiago Motta[1]
Date of birth (1982-08-28) 28 August 1982 (age 38)[2]
Place of birth São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil[2]
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
1997–1999 Juventus-SP
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2002 Barcelona B 84 (12)
2001–2007 Barcelona 96 (6)
2007–2008 Atlético Madrid 6 (0)
2008–2009 Genoa 27 (6)
2009–2012 Inter Milan 55 (11)
2012–2018 Paris Saint-Germain 166 (8)
Total 434 (43)
National team
1999 Brazil U17 3 (1)
2003 Brazil 2 (0)
2011–2016 Italy 30 (1)
Teams managed
2018–2019 Paris Saint-Germain U19
2019 Genoa
Association football
Representing  Brazil
Representing  Italy
UEFA European Championship
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Motta spent his early career at Barcelona, where he was injury-prone.[3] He played two and a half seasons with Inter Milan before joining Paris Saint-Germain in January 2012, winning 27 major titles all clubs combined. Motta also had brief spells with Atlético Madrid in Spain, and Genoa in Italy.

Born in Brazil, Motta also holds Italian citizenship.[4] After making two appearances for his country of birth in 2003, he represented the latter national team a total of 30 times since making his debut in 2011, scoring once. He appeared at the 2014 World Cup and two European Championships with Italy, finishing second at Euro 2012.

Following his retirement in 2018, he coached Paris Saint-Germain youths. In October 2019, he was appointed as Genoa's new manager, being fired in December following a bad series of results.

Playing career


Motta (back row, third from right) lining up for Barcelona during the 2005–06 season

Born in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Motta signed with FC Barcelona in 1999 at age 17 from local Clube Atlético Juventus, initially being assigned to the club's B-side. He eventually graduated to the first team in 2001, making his official debut on 3 October against RCD Mallorca in a 3–0 home win.[5]

In the 2001–02 edition of the UEFA Champions League, Motta made seven appearances and helped his team to the semi-finals. In 2002–03's La Liga he appeared in a career-best 21 games (with three goals) as Barça could only finish in sixth position, and also played an important part in the following season's long UEFA Cup run, which was eventually ended by Celtic; in the first leg, a 0–1 loss in Glasgow (0–1 on aggregate), he was sent off during half-time after hitting out at opposing goalkeeper Robert Douglas who was also shown the red card, in an incident that happened in the tunnel.[6]

Motta was also dogged by several injuries, particularly one suffered on 11 September 2004 against Sevilla FC, which sidelined him for seven months,[7] during his time at Barcelona. He would eventually need surgery to rebuild the anterior cruciate and lateral ligaments in his left knee, but was able to make a swift recovery and made an emotional comeback, taking to the field to rapturous applause as eventual league champions defeated Getafe CF 2–0 on 17 April.[8]

Atlético Madrid

In late August 2007, Motta signed a one-year contract with Atlético Madrid for an undisclosed fee.[9] Once again he began the season on the sidelines, injured; in the Copa del Rey quarter-final match against Valencia CF he was ejected after only 25 minutes, and the Colchoneros lost the away fixture 0–1 and subsequently the tie.[10]

Due to injury to regular starter Raúl García and the departure of Maniche in January 2008, Motta's opportunities increased. In March, however, the recurrent knee problems reappeared and his season was over, followed by a successful surgery and rehabilitation in the United States;[11] he trialled with Premier League side Portsmouth after his release, but did not sign for them.[12]

Motta training with Inter in 2010

In September 2008, Motta joined Genoa C.F.C. on a free transfer, after passing a medical.[13] During his debut campaign he performed consistently well and was a regular in the starting eleven, under coach Gian Piero Gasperini.[14]

On 11 April 2009, Motta scored two goals (one of them in the first half's injury time) in a final 3–2 home victory over Juventus FC.[15] He finished the year with a career-best six goals, and his team qualified for the Europa League.[14]

Inter Milan

On 20 May 2009, La Gazzetta dello Sport confirmed that Motta, alongside teammate Diego Milito, transferred to Inter Milan, who paid €28 million for the latter and €10.2 million for the former[16][17][18][19] while as part of the deal, Genoa received five Inter players: Robert Acquafresca, Francesco Bolzoni, Leonardo Bonucci, Ivan Fatić and Riccardo Meggiorini.[20][21] Motta's agent, Dario Canovi, later revealed that his Genoa contract with the club included a buy-out fee of €10 million.[22]

Motta's debut came in 2009–10's opener, a 1–1 home draw against A.S. Bari,[23] and his first goal came the next round as he opened the score in the Derby della Madonnina after an assist by Milito, in the 4–0 defeat of A.C. Milan.[24] Having been in and out of the team for the duration of the season, he netted his first brace for them in a 3–0 win over Bologna F.C. 1909 on 3 April 2010.[25]

Motta also appeared in eight games during the club's victorious Champions League campaign, including the 0–1 loss at former side Barcelona in the semi-finals (3–2 aggregate win). During that match, he was sent off after apparently striking Sergio Busquets in the face with his hand; the incident gathered attention due to Busquets' apparent feigning of injury.[26][27]

On 23 October 2011, from a corner taken by Wesley Sneijder, Motta scored through a header in a 1–0 victory against A.C. ChievoVerona, which was Inter's first at home in 2011–12.[28]

Paris Saint-Germain

On 31 January 2012, in spite of Inter manager Claudio Ranieri indicating shortly before he was confident the player would remain with the club until the end of the season, having called him to the upcoming league match against U.S. Città di Palermo,[29][30] Motta signed with Paris Saint-Germain F.C. in France, for a fee believed to be around 10 million.[31] Following his move, he revealed that he dreamt of playing for the club ever since fellow Brazilians such as Raí, Leonardo and Ronaldinho shone in the French capital;[32] he also revealed that he was not happy at Inter, refusing to further elaborate on his reasons to leave.[33]

Four days after signing for the club, Motta made his debut for PSG, against Evian Thonon Gaillard F.C. in a 3–1 home win, being booked in the process.[34] On 22 April 2012, in another home fixture, he scored his first goal in Ligue 1, contributing to a 6–1 rout of FC Sochaux-Montbéliard.[35]

On 21 February 2014, aged 31, Motta extended his contract until June 2016.[36] In August, he was left with a broken nose after being headbutted by SC Bastia's Brandão in the tunnel, as his opponent went on to be suspended for six months.[37]

Motta announced his retirement for the end of the season on 8 May 2018, while also being appointed as the new coach of PSG's under-19 side.[38] During his six-and-a-half-year stint at the Parc des Princes he played 232 competitives matches and won 19 trophies, making his final appearance on 19 May against Stade Malherbe Caen.[39]


Motta made his debut for Brazil in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Although he played with the under-23 team it was a full international competition, hence the international cap won was fully recognized by FIFA;[40] he went on to appear in another two games in the tournament, and previously represented the nation at the 1999 South American Under-17 Football Championship.

Motta missed the 2004 CONMEBOL Men Pre-Olympic Tournament due to injuries,[41] but appeared for the under-23 team in November 2003 against Santos FC.[42] Subsequently, there were claims that he wanted to be called up for Italy and possibly to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as he possessed dual nationality – his paternal grandfather being Italian.[43] His great-grandfather, Fortunato Fogagnolo, left for South America from Polesella in the early 1900s.[44] FIFA granted players to have one chance to change their representing nation if they had dual nationality, but not for players who have already played in a competitive "A" match (non-friendly).[45]

Motta lining up for Italy at Euro 2012
Motta leaving the field during the Euro 2012 final

On 6 February 2011, Motta received his first call-up from Italy, for a friendly against Germany, but an official statement from the Italian Football Federation declared it subject to FIFA clearance,[46] which was granted two days later.[47] He made his debut in that match, being replaced in the 63rd minute of the 1–1 draw by Alberto Aquilani.[48]

On 25 March 2011, in only his second international, a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovenia, Motta scored the game's only goal following a 73rd-minute combination with Federico Balzaretti.[49] He was selected to the finals in Poland and Ukraine, starting in three group stage matches for the Azzurri and adding two substitute appearances, against Germany in the semi-finals (2–1 win) and Spain in the final; in the decisive match, after having again replaced Riccardo Montolivo, in the 55th minute, he suffered a hamstring injury after only five minutes and had to be carried off, leaving his team with ten players as he was the third and last allowable player brought in by manager Cesare Prandelli – in an eventual 0–4 loss.[50]

Motta was named in a 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 13 May,[51] and also made the final list. He played his first-ever game in the tournament at the age of nearly 32, coming on in the 57th minute of the 2–1 group stage victory over England.[52]

On 31 May 2016, Motta was named to Antonio Conte's 23-man Italy squad for Euro 2016, and was handed the number 10 shirt.[53] The decision to assign him that number sparked controversy,[54] although international teammate Daniele De Rossi later defended the manager's decision stating: "Those who have joked about it just don't know much about football. Just play the ball around a bit with Thiago Motta and then you will rinse your mouth out. He might not be a No. 10 like [Roberto] Baggio or [Francesco] Totti, but technically he's a master."[55] He was suspended for the quarter-final match against Germany, after being booked for the second time in the competition in the previous round against Spain.[56]

Style of play

A combative player, Motta was usually deployed as either a defensive or central midfielder, but he was capable of playing in various other midfield positions due to his tactical intelligence and versatility.[57][58][59] In the Italian national team, under Prandelli, he was on occasion deployed as a deep-lying playmaker or an attacking midfielder, due to his ability to set the tempo of his team's play in midfield with his passing.[58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68] At Euro 2012, he played in a new role of false attacking midfielder in Prandelli's 4–3–1–2 formation.[69]

Motta's most prominent traits were his ball control, technique, vision and passing range, although he was also praised for his tackling, ability to read the game and consistent defensive attributes as a ball winner.[57][61][62][70][71] Due to his physical strength, heading accuracy and ability to make late attacking runs from behind into the penalty area, he excelled in the air,[57][60][70][72] and also possessed a powerful long-range shot;[57] despite his skills, he was also criticised for his aggression on the pitch and his lack of pace.[57][59][62][73]

Coaching career

Following his retirement from professional football in May 2018, Motta became the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain's under-19 side.[38] In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport in November of that year, he stated that he wanted to revolutionise football with a 4–3–3 formation that could be interpreted as a 2–7–2, commenting:

"My idea is to play offensively. A short team that controls the game, high pressure and a lot of movement with and without the ball. I want the player that has the ball to always have three or four solutions and two teammates close by to help. The difficulty in football is, often to do things simply but to control the base, pass and get free. I don't like the numbers of the field because they trick you. You can be super offensive with a 5–3–2 and defensive in a 4–3–3. Depending on the quality of the guys. I had a game a while ago where the two full-backs ended up playing as the 9 and 10. But that doesn't mean I don't like people like Samuel and Chiellini, born defenders. Could it be a 2–7–2? No, the goalkeeper counts as one of the midfield seven. For me, the attacker is the first defender and the goalkeeper is the first attacker. The goalkeeper starts the play, with his feet and the attackers are the first to put pressure to recover the ball."[74][75][76][excessive quote]

In August 2019, Motta enrolled in the UEFA Pro Licence courses at the Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano.[77] On 21 October, his former club Genoa, at the time occupying the second-to-last position in the Italian top tier, announced his appointment as the new manager, replacing the recently dismissed Aurelio Andreazzoli.[78][79] In his first official match in charge, five days later, he led the team to come from behind and achieve a 3–1 home win over Brescia Calcio.[80][81] With the side in last place, however, he was fired on 28 December.[82]

Motta received his UEFA Pro Licence on 16 September 2020.[83]

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[84][85]
Club Season League Cup [nb 1] League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Barcelona 2001–02 181007[lower-alpha 1]0251
2002–03 2130013[lower-alpha 1]2345
2003–04 201005[lower-alpha 2]1252
2004–05 80000080
2005–06 151007[lower-alpha 1]000221
2006–07 140207[lower-alpha 3]02[lower-alpha 4]0250
Total 96620393201399
Atlético Madrid 2007–08 60002[lower-alpha 2]080
Genoa 2008–09 27600276
Inter Milan 2009–10 264508[lower-alpha 1]01[lower-alpha 5]0404
2010–11 194305[lower-alpha 1]12[lower-alpha 6]0295
2011–12 103102[lower-alpha 1]01[lower-alpha 5]0143
Total 551190151408312
Paris Saint-Germain 2011–12 142200000162
2012–13 12110002[lower-alpha 1]0151
2013–14 32321309[lower-alpha 1]21[lower-alpha 7]0476
2014–15 27020206[lower-alpha 1]01[lower-alpha 7]0380
2015–16 32130109[lower-alpha 1]01[lower-alpha 7]0461
2016–17 30041205[lower-alpha 1]01[lower-alpha 7]0421
2017–18 19140004[lower-alpha 1]01[lower-alpha 7]0281
Total 1668182803525023212
Career totals 350312928091611048939
  1. All appearances in UEFA Champions League
  2. All appearances in UEFA Cup
  3. Six appearances in UEFA Champions League, one appearance in UEFA Super Cup
  4. All appearances in Supercopa de España
  5. Appearance in Supercoppa Italiana
  6. All appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
  7. Appearance in Trophée des Champions


    Appearances and goals by national team and year[42][86]
    National team YearAppsGoals
    Brazil 200320
    Italy 2011 6 1
    2012 7 0
    2013 5 0
    2014 5 0
    2015 0 0
    2016 7 0
    Total 30 1
    Career total321

    International goal

    Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Motta goal.
    No.DateVenueOpponentScoreResultCompetition Ref.
    125 March 2011Stadion Stožice, Ljubljana, Slovenia Slovenia1–01–0UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying [49]

    Managerial statistics

    As of match played 21 December 2019
    Team Nat From To Record Ref.
    G W D L GF GA GD Win %
    Genoa 22 October 2019 28 December 2019 10 2 3 5 11 17 −6 020.00 [87]
    Career totals 10 2 3 5 11 17 −6 020.00




    Inter Milan[89][88]

    Paris Saint-Germain[88]


    Motta, Mario Balotelli and Alessandro Diamanti in training at Euro 2012





    1. Includes cup competitions such as Copa del Rey, Coppa Italia, and Coupe de France


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