It is like 2013 all over again. Thiago Alcantara is being linked to Manchester United.
Let’s get this out of the way early. We are not convinced at all that this move is likely.
But, word of United’s interest has been verified by the normally reliable German football expert Christian Falk, head of football at BILD.
He wrote on social media: ” There are still also rumors about Thiago and @ManUtd in the exekutive floor of FC Bayern.”
Asked if the reports were true or false linking United to Thiago, he cryptically replied, ‘I wouldn‘t say ‘Not true’.”
So what is the situation?
Thiago is in a contract dispute at Bayern. Sport BILD report he wants a four year deal, and was only offered a three-year deal. He has broken off negotiations and is seeking a transfer.
Bayern have reportedly said he can leave, if a club meet their asking price of 40 million Euros (£36m).
The club most strongly linked to him are Liverpool. But as the Sport BILD report states, they are only willing to offer half of Bayern’s asking price, at £18 million.
We would suspect this is where United come in. Talk of interest from Old Trafford is beneficial to both Liverpool and Bayern.
If Liverpool sign him they can boast they beat United to the deal, as they did with Takumi Minamino, when there was no interest at all at our end. But it makes a good soundbite for them anyway.
For Bayern, supposed interest from United may be designed to pressure Liverpool into increasing their offer.
You can’t really say no…
Thiago has won seven league titles at Bayern since signing for the club and has been criminally underrated.
He has been consistently among the best midfielders in the world over this period, and has made Barcelona regret not keeping him as the successor to Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
United have a philosophy to buy young players, yet at the same time, it is really hard to say ‘no’ to the prospect of signing Thiago.
Even at 29, he has plenty of years left in him, and if he plays like Xavi and Iniesta did in their 30s, then he will be a worthwhile signing for any top club.
Injuries have been the one knock against Thiago during his career at Bayern. But this season he has still made 36 appearances, 29 of which were starts.
At United he could rotate amid a cast of already talented midfielders and would not be overstretched.
If the objective is to get closer to Liverpool and haul them in amid a title challenge next season, and compete in the Champions League pending qualification, then signing Thiago should be a no-brainer, he will improve the team.
We saw United struggle to keep possession against Southampton on Monday night. Put one of the best ball-playing midfielders in the world in that side in Thiago, and you don’t have that problem.
Making a prediction
Despite the improvement Thiago would give to United, this doesn’t feel like a deal the club are going to go for, despite the reports from the normally reliable German press.
We have been down this road seven years ago, only to see David Moyes turn the transfer down (never forgive), so we won’t be getting our hopes up again.
It is looking more likely that he will sign for Liverpool than United, which would really be a worst case scenario.
Thiago to United would be nice, but we don’t expect United to surprise us and actually pull this off.
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