Thiago Alcantara may be Barcelona's future...but he can be United's future and their present if he moves on.
Everyone loves a good transfer saga. And one that seems likely to run for some time yet is that of Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara amid reported interest from Manchester United.
The 22-year-old is exactly the kind of player United need – a midfield spark with the ability to both score and create. In essence, he is a superstar in the making.
So it is no surprise that Barcelona’s manager Tito Vilanova has said he would like the player to stay – despite the competition for places and a very public release clause of just €18million.
We reported yesterday evening the quotes from Vilanova during his final press conference of the season.
“Thiago is Barca’s future,” he said, “and we’d like it if he stayed on with the club.”
But rather than persuading the player to remain at the Nou Camp, those comments say a great deal about why he should leave.
Calling a player “the future” is all well and good. But at 22, and with five seasons behind him, Thiago should be the present; which is exactly what United should be telling him if they wish to secure his services.
The rumours suggesting Cesc Fabregas may move to Old Trafford make enticing headlines. But however much David Moyes wishes to reinvigorate the United midfield, the ex-Gunner would surely only join having suffered severe memory loss.
Thiago is the far more likely arrival. And with Fabregas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta all ahead of him for a spot in his current side’s starting 11, he could be persuaded to move...if certain reassurances are given.
Thiago made his first Barcelona appearance in the 2008-2009 season. Three years later he made 27 La Liga appearances and won his first cap for Spain. And yet last season – in part due to the arrival of Fabregas – he made almost as many appearances from the bench as he did from the start.
In short, he is falling further down the queue when at other clubs he would be heading it.
So yes, Barcelona may see him as their future. And perhaps that hope will be enough to convince him to stay. But United have no one as good as Alcantara in his position. For them, he would start as much as form and fitness allowed him to.
There is much to be said about being the future of a great club. But there is little to be gained from waiting half a decade for the privilege that appears no closer to becoming true.
Should Moyes match the player’s release clause, it is down to Thiago to decide where his future lies. That future could happen a whole lot sooner if he moved to United.
Should Thiago bide his time at Barcelona or move to a club where he could shine almost instantly?
images: © jeroen_bennink