As Pep Guardiola reveals his interest in Thiago Alcantara, could United be left disappointed for the second successive summer?
Just over 12 months ago, one young player was more heavily linked with Manchester United than any other. His name was Lucas Moura and, if you believed the hype and the Youtube clips, he was very special indeed.
Every day there were new headlines, fresh spins on old stories and “sources” claiming the deal was almost done. Until one day Sir Alex Ferguson came out and confirmed his club’s interest – a move that suggested all was not well.
Two weeks later, Moura signed for PSG.
Fast-forward to now, and David Moyes is yet to confirm his new club’s interest in Thiago Alcantara.
And yet if they aren’t interested, something has been seriously lost in translation.
Just as we knew the club wished to sign Moura long before they gave the nod, so it is with the Barcelona midfielder. But just as they missed out on the Brazilian when a better offer came along, could the same be about to happen with Thiago?
Moura’s agent later claimed a deal with United was all-but-signed when PSG’s sporting director Leonardo called and changed the player’s mind.
And today's quotes from Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola have surely reached the ears of his former player in a similarly enticing way.
“I want Thiago Alcantara,” he said. “I have asked Bayern to get him but I don’t know what will happen.
“It’ll be him or no one. We have many players but we need the special extra quality that Thiago brings.”
Would any United fan put their hand up and say they still have a chance of signing the 22-year-old after that perfectly constructed sound-bite?
While Leonardo’s wooing of Moura took place in private, Guardiola’s is public knowledge. But for the second summer running, United could lose a long-pursued target to a European rival.
Of course a move to the German treble-winners would leave him in a similar predicament to the one he is said to be keen to escape. Bayern’s midfield isn’t exactly weak…and the prospect of moving Javi Martinez to centre-back to accommodate Thiago seems a little like breaking something that works perfectly in the hope of making it somehow better.
But if Guardiola rates the Spaniard as much as his recent and prior quotes suggest, he will find a place for him – a place that will allow him to flourish.
So it is now over to the player – and as the echoes of Lucas Moura’s saga and ultimate rejection grow louder, the conclusion seems all too clear.
Do you believe United still have a chance of signing Thiago in light of Bayern's interest?
image: © Doha Stadium Plus