Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara has credited coach Carlo Ancelotti as the catalyst for him having the "best season" of his career.
Thiago, 26, is in his fourth year at Bayern and has made 22 Bundesliga starts for the club this term, scoring four goals while setting up five more to help his side take a 10-point lead at the top of the table.
The Spain international has also found the back of the net twice and assisted two other goals in seven Champions League starts for Bayern during the current campaign.
"It's true that from a professional standpoint, this is my best season," Thiago told El Pais. "It's a season of maturity, of having more responsibility. If you are not crucial to your team, then football has no sense.
"I want to continue to do what I'm doing now but also improve. I want to be an important part of this group and I think I'm succeeding in doing that. I feel as though I am playing a bigger role in the team and that is crucial to having the confidence, not only of the coach, but of my teammates."
Ancelotti took charge of Bayern last summer after Pep Guardiola stepped down following three seasons to take over at Manchester City.
"Ancelotti has given me the freedom," Thiago said. "More than strategy or tactics, it has been the freedom and confidence that a coach can give you. I need that because I like to analyse the game, to have tactical rigour, to read a game.
"He [Ancelotti] allows you to do that because he tells you four minor things so that you can interpret it in your way. He transmits that everything is everyone's, that the fault is of everyone and he gives you that freedom so that you can become responsible."
Thiago came through the youth ranks at Barca when Guardiola was in charge of the Catalan club and chose to follow in his footsteps by signing for Bayern in 2013.
Thiago says he feels fortunate to have been coached by two of the best managers in the game.
"They [Guardiola and Ancelotti] won everything as players and as coaches," he said. "They have that calmness of those that know what players are thinking because they have played the game. But they have different characters. They are both great coaches but see football in a totally different way."
Thiago says Ancelotti's arrival at Bayern has benefitted players in his position.
"We went from playing a 4-3-3 to now playing a 4-2-3-1 formation," he said. "From a tactical standpoint, Ancelotti has given more freedom for those midfield players. We are now able to move forward more. Arturo [Vidal] and I can move a lot more freely."
Bayern currently remain on course for a Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Pokal Treble. They are through to the semifinals of the DFB Pokal and face Borussia Dortmund later this month, while they meet Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday.
"He doesn't talk in vain," Thiago said of Ancelotti. "He makes himself understood in every language. He doesn't speak much but when he talks, everyone listens and it's because he has something important to say.
"More than his talks, the words and the jokes he tells, he is able to find that difference between being a coach and someone who is there with you every day and asks about your life. He has had players with difficult characters to deal with throughout his career but all of them speak well of him. That is very unusual."