Could Manchester United finally sign the player hailed as the next Iniesta?
In football, fathers and agents often have a lot to say for themselves. They release sound-bites, headlines to generate interest from elsewhere or push for better deals at current clubs.
The latest to do so is the father of Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara, whose comments about his son’s apparent frustration at a lack of first team opportunities has surely prompted clubs across Europe to test the water.
Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have been interested for some time, and last summer, rumours were rife that the latest heir apparent to Paul Scholes could make the move to Old Trafford.
Instead he stayed at the Nou Camp, confident that despite the challenge of usurping Xavi and Andres Iniesta for a starting birth, it would happen in time.
But now 21, Thiago seems to be realising that football is about timing as much as talent. As good as he undoubtedly is, his challenge at Barcelona is to be better than arguably the two greatest midfielders in Europe.
His father’s comments – that his son would start for any other team in the world – may be hyperbole. But he would probably start for most.
And he would certainly start for a Manchester United side whose midfield is lacking the creativity and dynamism Thiago could offer.
Having made his debut for Barcelona at just 18, two years later he ended the season with 17 appearances, three goals and three assists. This season he has 18 league appearances to date, but half of those have come from the bench.
So it makes sense that he wants to leave. Although the question shouldn’t be to where, but for how long; because when you consider his father’s comments more closely, there is an undercurrent of impermanence in his concerns.
He talks of the 2014 World Cup and his son’s need to play regularly in order to get there. He talks of the fact that he has the quality to succeed at Barcelona. And when you read between the lines you sense that any move Thiago makes will be temporary.
And whether that be to United, a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich or moving somewhere else entirely, his new club should sign him with a caveat.
As we have seen with Spanish players before him, the call of home is often too strong to ignore. Once they have proved to that “home” that they should not have been sold in the first place.
Do you think the time is right for Thiago to leave Barcelona? And do United have a chance of signing him...for the long term?
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