Forget Fabregas, will Arsenal swoop for his €18 million Barcelona teammate?

Thiago Alcantara

Could Arsenal make a surprise move for Thiago Alcantara?

Arsenal have been linked with Cesc Fabregas repeatedly over the past few months, but so far he has given every indication he wants to stay at Barcelona.

One Barcelona man whose future is even less certain is his midfield teammate, Thiago Alcantara.

The 22-year-old is available for transfer for a cut-price €18 million, due to a clause in his contract being automatically activated after he did not appear over a stipulated number of minutes in La Liga this season, thought to be around the 60 per cent mark.

He has headed off to the under-21 Championships with Spain where he is already impressing, showing just why the price tag on his head is such great market value.

The midfielder has plenty to think about, with Tito Vilanova describing him before he headed off as the 'future of Barcelona' and Xavi also urging him to be patient.

Manchester United have been linked with him, as have City and even Real Madrid, and he is said to be thinking about moving to a club where he can be a regular starter - with Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas all in front of him in the queue at the Nou Camp.

So given the fact Arsenal are unlikely to prise Fabregas away, could they move to Thiago instead?

Arsene Wenger could be tempted, for he is a manager who has been shown several times previously to be a fan of Barcelona and their academy, and Thiago Alcantara's bargain market value would appeal to him.

With cash to spend, the outlay would not seem as meteoric as it would have done in previous seasons, even being less than they paid for Santi Cazorla last summer.

While the Gunners will be looking for a defensive midfielder, that wasn't supposedly stopping them looking at bringing Fabregas back, and for the price of that they could bring in Thiago and a defensive player, a Gonalons from Lyon for example.

It may be argued that Arsenal don't actually need Thiago, but such an excellent player should not be turned down on this reasoning, bearing in mind that squad player Tomas Rosicky is entering the final year of his contract, and Mikel Arteta is into his 30s.

He also would help ease the pressure on Jack Wilshere, and be an instrumental part of the Gunners' season.

There is nothing to suggest Arsenal have made an approach for him, but with plenty of twists and turns yet to come this summer, and Thiago yet to decide his future, don't rule out the Gunners springing a surprise.

Could you see Thiago at Arsenal?

image: © castroquini2011

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