With the ongoing Thiago transfer saga, Derek Morriss looks at all of the options available to the young Spaniard and what he should do…
Thiago Alcantara is a man with options, and to the untrained eye, those options seem to provide him with a various once in a life time opportunities.
He is already an established member of the Barcelona squad, and has played his part in recent title successes and Champions League near misses, scoring seven goals in 68 first team appearances since 2009. He has represented Spain on three occasions and was the star of the show, scoring a Final hat-trick as the Spain U21 sides triumphed in the recently played European U21 Championships in Israel. He is very much a player whose star is on the rise.
On to these options then. Thiago is a man who will be desperate to be involved in the World Cup in 2014 for several reasons. Spain are the defending World Champions, and despite their recent mauling at the hands of Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, will rightly go into the World Cup as the favourites. Thiago will obviously want the opportunity to be a part of a World Cup winning squad. There is also the fact that he is the son of Mazinho, a World Cup winner himself in 1994, with Brazil. To win a World Cup with your country, in the country that your father won a World Cup with is quite simply an opportunity that will not come around again.
As such, Thiago needs to think carefully before making his next step. Barcelona have made it clear that they want him to stay. They cannot, however, guarantee him any more playing time than he had in the 2012-13 season. Thiago himself has expressed a desire to play more regularly, in order to cement his place in the Spain quad ahead of next year’s festivities. That’s option one out of the way then.
Option two, for a long time, has seemed to be the most valid and most likely. Manchester United are desperately seeking a replacement for Paul Scholes who has retired……again. Thiago has been earmarked as a potential replacement, and looked as keen on a move to United as they were on bringing him over. With Scholes retiring, and nobody in their current squad staking enough of a claim to replace him, it is more than likely that Thiago would fit straight into the team and therefore get the playing time he is so desperate for. Such a move would be beneficial to both parties, and the football world has been waiting for Thiago to put pen to paper and make the move to the Premier League.
A proverbial spanner has been thrown into the works though with Pep Guardiola making a last minute ditch to bring Thiago to Bayern Munich. I can see how this will appeal to Thiago. Bayern Munich are the reigning Champions of Europe. They dominated German football last season to a level that has rarely been seen before, and they now have Pep Guardiola taking over from Jupp Heynckes as manager. It’s all too good to be true, and according to those in the know, Thiago now seems to favour a move to the Bundesliga to link up with his old manager.
Not that he is likely to listen, but I would advise against such a move. I believe that Thiago will encounter the same issues at Bayern that so infuriate him at Barcelona. Bayern Munich have an established and settled midfield. A midfield that was so good last term that they won the Bundesliga at a canter, and destroyed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi final of the Champions League. Good as Thiago is, it is hard to see where he would fit into the Bayern midfield, and I fear that were he to make that move, he would find himself once again spending long periods on the substitute’s bench.
Back to the start then… Thiago Alcantara is a man with options, and to the untrained eye, those options seem to be incredible once in a life time opportunities. A better way of looking at it would be that his options are to sit on the bench at Barcelona/Bayern, or play regularly at Manchester United. With the World Cup less than a year away, he really only has one option.