Poise, precision, vision, finesse. These are all attributes Thiago has in abundance, but that is hardly surprising for someone that has come through the La Masia academy with rave reviews. That being said, it is his latest string of appearances in the European under-21 championships that have forced clubs to stand up and take action.
In Barcelona’s ideal world they would be able to keep him around. Unfortunately, at Barcelona Thiago’s opportunities for first team football are limited. This is by no means a slant on his ability but rather a consequence of Barcelona having 3 of the best midfielders in the world ahead of him in the pecking order.
With this being the case and with talent as great as his, it is perfectly reasonable that he would want to move for first team football, especially as he will have aspirations of making Spain’s 2014 World Cup squad.
However, any move he does make away from a club as great as Barcelona would require substantial consideration, as it would have to be the perfect situation in order for him to be lured away. Fortunately, an opportunity for a match made in heaven has fallen into his lap.
This is primarily because he has been the beneficiary of an error on Barcelona’s part. They were not careful enough in monitoring how many appearances he had made, which in turn triggered a significant drop in his minimum fee release clause. As such, he will now be available for the bargain sum of €18million, so it is no surprise that he has several suitors.
Although that is the case, no team meets his needs more than Manchester United, as one of the criticisms levied at them in years gone by has been a lack of creativity from the centre of their midfield. They started to address this issue with the signing of Shinji Kagawa last season. However, as he is more of a natural number 10, there is still another piece that is missing which is required to mesh him with the more defensive minded Michael Carrick.
No player available in the transfer market could fill this void better than Thiago Alcantara. We saw his exploits in such a role when playing in conjunction with Isco and Illarramendi for Spain’s under-21’s.
What’s more is that the creativity, vision and passing ability that Kagawa and Thiago share could in turn increase the number of chances created in open play without the need for United’s strikers having to drift back into midfield.
It would also add a bit more composure in possession thus relieving the pressure on the front and back lines but to maximise the effectiveness of having both players in the starting XI my opinion would be that United switch to a 4-2-3-1 or similar such that the front man is afforded the opportunity to stay up top.
If we then look at the other team’s interested in signing Thiago (most notably Bayern München), no one else provides such a perfect opportunity for him to play his natural position with a near guarantee for him to be a major presence in the starting line up.
What makes this move that much more appealing is that unlike years gone by, there is now several Spanish players in the Premier League, particularly in the Manchester area. Most notably for him, he would be at the same club as his under-21 teammate David de Gea.
To top it off, he would be moving from one of the world’s biggest clubs to another, so his performances will still get global recognition and thus such a move would benefit both him (in terms of making the world cup squad) and United (through the strengthening of their midfield). Some detractors may say that he could harm his development by leaving the tiki-taka system but my instinct is that he would thrive on the opportunity of a first team berth at United instead.
So, with a deal presenting such good value for money, I believe that this is a deal David Moyes should try and complete as soon as possible as the benefits from such a deal could only serve to boost the progression of the club in the first year under his management.
What are United's options if a deal for Thiago falls through?
image: © castroquini2011