Sad news today as Barça lose one of the most exciting prospects of the cantera, Thiago Alcantara, who will sign for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich. The two clubs have agreed a price of €25 million for the 22-year-old midfielder who will travel to Munich in the next few days to take a medical before signing his new four-year contract.
It is being reported that Bayern agreed to negotiate a fee with Barça rather than use the release clause of €18 million in Thiago’s contract due to a desire to maintain good relations between the clubs. As culés we can be happy to have got a few more million on the deal though it is difficult to understand why Bayern should decide to be so generous when in theory they had no need to be. If anybody has any idea on this please send a comment.
Whatever the case, the price still seems like a giveaway. Thiago may not have held down a first team place at Camp Nou but he is undoubtably one of the most talented youngsters in the game and if he fulfils his potential he could become one of the biggest stars of the decade.
However, he’s still not quite at that level yet, and moving to Bayern is quite a risk for player hoping for first team football in an attempt to make Vicente Del Bosque’s World Cup squad next summer. Thiago may not have to compete with Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas on a weekly basis now but he will still be pushed to become a regular starter at the Allianz Arena despite previous confidence shown by Guardiola in his Barcelona days.
Tito Vilanova was being honest when he told Thiago that he could not guarantee him a regular starting place. Unfortunately Vilanova was unable to convince the player of his value to the squad and he couldn’t persuade him to be patient any more. Many people saw Thiago as the natural substitute for Xavi in Barça’s midfield but I feel Thiago’s problem has been that he is probably more suited as a natural successor to Iniesta. The main criticism of Thiago has usually been that he sometimes gives the ball away in dangerous positions but if he played ten yards further forward in a more attacking midfield role like Iniesta this would not be so important while his ability to take on opponents would be more useful.
Unfortunately for Thiago, Iniesta is four years younger than Xavi and is still at his peak. It could have been a long while before Thiago got the role that would be best suited to him at Barça so ultimately he may be making the best decision for his career. Now we will never know how he might have developed if he had stayed at Camp Nou and unless we buy him back in the future, probably for double the price, we will only ever be able to appreciate him as an opponent.
As a football fan I can only hope that Thiago has made the right decision and that he develops into the fantastic player that he could be. Sadly as a Barça fan I fear that we may often look back in the future and say: “if only we’d kept Thiago”.