As David Moyes readies himself to start his tenure at Old Trafford on the 1st July, current employees have been busy scouring the world for potential transfer targets. Jim Lawlor, United’s chief scout, has been in Israel watching the European Under 21′s Championship. In particular, he has been keeping a close eye on Spain’s captain, and Barcelona prodigy, Thiago Alacantra. Leading his team expectedly through the group stages, the impressive midfielder has certainly wet the taste buds.
A graduate of the famous La Masia academy, Thiago has been long touted as Xavi’s replacement at the Nou Camp. However, the son of former World Cup Winner, Mazinho, has grown frustrated with his lack of first team football in Spain and is eager to push on, having served his time in and around the first team squad. In doing so, he has made it clear that if Barcelona cannot satisfy his ambitions next season, he will have no choice but to move on.
Thiago is a supremely talented youngster, blessed with tremendous timing, touch and vision. A composed and unselfish ball player, his style is predictably easy on the eye. Orchestrating the tempo and direction of the games he plays, he shows a maturity beyond his years, whilst maintaining an essence of unpredictability which makes him hard to stop and exciting to watch.
Like most La Masia graduates, he is comfortable receiving the ball under pressure and is not afraid to put the effort in to get it back when he loses it. Even though he is quite slight in stature, he has a superb balance which compensates for his lack of physicality. However, there are doubts as to how he would adapt outside the comforts of Barcelona and Spain’s traditional and intricate 4-3-3 style.
At 22 years of age, Thiago is at the start of a long and prosperous journey as a professional footballer. In the position to play for any number of clubs next season, Alacantra has the ability to achieve whatever he puts his mind to.
Brought up the Barcelona way, he is a pure footballer who can use his abilities to dictate play, set up goals and score them. Alongside someone like Michael Carrick, there would be no reason he could not match or eclipse what Cesc Fabregas did whilst he was in the Premier League.
Spain’s 4-3-3 system is designed to be interchangeable. Barcelona’s own system is dictated by where Lionel Messi wants to play. As such, Thiago is a versatile central midfielder who is comfortable dropping deep, drifting to either wing and making dummy runs when play lets him do so.
Alongside the likes of Kagawa, Nani and Welbeck, Thiago would be well suited to any intricate, interchangeably style of football Moyes may look to bring in. Nonetheless, it is more likely that Moyes will look to stick with a 4-4-2 system next season. As such, Thiago may need some time to adapt, just as Luka Modric did when he came to the Premier League, but there is nothing to suggest that, after a short acclimatisation period, he could not pull it off.
As every fan knows, any midfield addition will be welcomed with open hands this summer. Desperately short of numbers in that regard, Thiago would walk into the squad and would, by all accounts, be the prime choice to partner Michael Carrick in midfield if he arrived this summer.
According to my betting sites, Thiago is disgruntled at his lack of games at the Nou Camp and, having started only 15 times this season for Barcelona, he is contractually available for ‘just’ £15 million this summer. It therefore seems likely that United, alongside City and Chelsea, will retain a strong interest in the European Championships this month.
Following his silence on the subject last night, speculation has only increased that he is interested in a move to Old Trafford. With Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas still ahead of him next season at the Nou Camp, the prospect of a new challenge, with guaranteed playing time, may prove too attractive to resist. It’s unlikely that Barcelona would sell him without a complicated buy-back clause in his contract but they’re not in a position to gamble financially, especially after signing Neymar, and United should try and prise him from their grasps, as part of Moyes’ plan to revitalise our currently unimposing midifled options.
Do you think United should sign him this summer?