Pique: Barcelona must strive to keep Thiago

The Blaugrana defender urges his side to do everything in their power to retain the starlet, following months of speculation linking the Under-21s champion to the Premier League

Gerard Pique has called on Barcelona to "convince" wantaway midfielder Thiago that his future lies at Camp Nou.

The 22-year-old had been linked with a move away from the Spanish champions in recent months, and his fine performances at the European Under-21 Championship - including a hat-trick in Friday's 4-2 final victory over Italy - has prompted a sudden surge in speculation.

Yet his Barca team-mate has urged the club to do everything they possibly can to keep Thiago in Catalunya, although he appeared to remind the Italy-born ace that his predecessors also had to wait their turn before establishing themselves in the first team.

"There is a possibility that he can go, but we have to convince him that the best place for him is the club [Barcelona]," Pique told reporters.

"The players currently in starting positions were patient [for their turn] and have since marked an era."

Pique then paid tribute to Blaugrana colleague Carles Puyol, following the centre-back's return to the operating table to solve a long-standing knee problem, and Spain compatriot Iker Casillas, for his "surprising" performance against Uruguay in the Confederations Cup.

"When he is fit, he remains one of the top five centre-backs in the world," noted the former Manchester United man.

"I was also surprised with how good he was [against Uruguay] after not playing for months at Real Madrid."