It is very rare that it can be legitimately said that Manchester United's team would be improved by a player who cannot hold down a starting place at another side, but in the case of Thiago Alcantara, there is the mitigating factor that he is challenging for perhaps the most competitive position in the world.
With Xavi now 33, Alcantara might have been prepared to wait for his chance at Barcelona, but the World Cup in 2014 could give Manchester United a clear opportunity to sign one of the best young midfielders in Europe, as the 21 year old tries to force his way into Spain's squad.
Alcantara bears many of the hallmarks that you would expect from a Barcelona midfielder. His passing is excellent, either in the centre of the pitch or in the tight spaces around the opponent's area. In his appearances in La Liga this season Alcantara has a pass completion rate of 92.5%.
The 21 year old is also strong enough defensively to play in the centre of midfield, and is used to the high intensity pressing game that has been a feature of Barcelona's play over the past few years.
All in all, Alcantara would be a superb acquisition for Manchester United, and he would complement their array of attacking talent perfectly. With Wilfired Zaha joining United's plethora of forwards this summer, they have no shortage of players who can tear sides apart in the final third, but they sometimes have lacked creativity from deeper in their formation, and having Alcantara supplying their attacking quartet looks like a fine match on paper.
In recent years, English clubs have sometimes struggled to fend off interest from Barcelona in their players, but with Alcantara keen to claim a place in Spain's World Cup squad Manchester United might have an opportunity to sign one of the Catalan giant's most promising young players. If they could, Alcantara could be a huge boost for them next season.
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