Until Cesc Fabregas took over that mantle, the man most heavily linked with a move to Manchester United last summer was his then-Barcelona teammate Thiago Alcantara.
Given the speculation, it appeared only a matter of time before the Spanish midfielder made the move to Old Trafford. But it was not to be, with his former manager Pep Guardiola instead paying around €25million to bring him to Bayern Munich.
It was the first of a series of knock-backs for United, although some reports later claimed David Moyes was unsure if Thiago could cut it in the English top flight.
Either way, the 22-year-old is now fully recovered from the torn ligaments that ruled him out for the opening months of the season; so much so that his brother and fellow footballer Rafinha has hailed him as one of the world’s best.
Speaking to Goal, the Barcelona forward said, “Thiago is doing very well at Bayern. He is an excellent player and he’s one of the best in the world for me.
“He has been showing that he has a lot of talent. He has improved a lot from a tactical point of view as well.
“You can see that he is brimming with confidence working under Pep Guardiola and I hope he can keep this up.”
Given his performances prior to his move to the Allianz Arena, it is indicative of the former Barca coach’s methods and relationship with the Spanish international that his brother now feels he is even better than during his time at the Nou Camp.
Would he have said the same if Thiago was now working under David Moyes? While the answer may be obvious to many, unfortunately for United fans they never got the chance to find out.
image: © cooperman13