Jul 10, 2013, 11:04 PM EDT
While the summer transfer window seemed to be building to the inevitable transfer of Thiago Alcantara to Manchester United, there may be a fly in the ointment – a pest that flew into the concoction Barcelona and the Red Devils have spent weeks contriving. After a radio station in Spain reported on Wednesday that the 22-year-old Spanish international would join former coach Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, the path to Old Trafford seems more bumpy than paved.
According to Spanish outlet MARCA, the report from Cadena COPE claims Alcantara will be announced with the European champions on Thursday, with Guardiola set to shift holder Javi Martínez back to central defense to make room for the Barça midfielder. That would still leave Alcantara fighting with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Gustavo, Toni Kroos and Mario Götze for time in Bayern’s midfield, but with speculation Guardiola could employ Götze at forward as a “false nine,” Bayern could offer Alcantara more playing time than he’d otherwise see Barça.
That seems to be an important part of this picture. According to Vicente Del Bosque, the Spain national team coach, Alcantara needs to be player regularly, an issue that’s likely bolstered the initial connection to Manchester United. But strangely, Del Bosque is discouraging a move to the English champions based on playing time concerns? As if Alcantara shouldn’t be able to win a job in United’s XI. Regardless, there seem to be multiple points of reference contributing to this new Alcantara-to-Bayern momentum.
So to a certain extent, the puzzle pieces line up, and with Guardiola in Munich, Alcantara has more than Bayern’s renown and recent success to sway his decision away from Manchester. Still, there’s always reason to raise an eyebrow at reports out of Spain, and as Callum Hamilton writes at The Busby Babe (a Manchester United blog), there’s more reason to than most to be skeptical of MARCA relaying a report from Cadena COPE:
To make matters even more interesting, the radio station has had previous run-ins with Barcelona. Their loyalties very much lie with their rivals, Real Madrid, and were successfully sued recently after claiming that Barcelona had been doping players, based on a questionable source from Madrid. They’re no friends of the Catalans, and the chance to claim that their beloved former manager was about to steal one of their best youngsters from them may have been too good to pass up.
Perhaps, though if Alcantara stays needs to be distinguished from where he’s likely to go. COPE and MARCA’s potential bias speak to the if, but Alcantara’s $15 million release cause remains there regardless. He can always choose when to leave and where to go, but if either United or Bayern make it worth his while, that relatively paltry number’s still there.
More interesting is whether United’s discussions with Barcelona, said to concern a lower fee in exchange for a buy-back somewhere down the road, have prolonged this enough to bring another buyer into the equation. And if that buyer happens to be the European champions who employ Alcantara’s former coach, that seems like a significant threat, especially if Guardiola can sell Alcantara on the puzzle we portrayed, above.
As Hamilton notes, the rumor itself probably shouldn’t be considered with any more weight that the flotsam we get from the Daily MailStarMirror. That the scenario makes sense, however, should send chills down the spine of every Red Devils fan who was imagining Alcantara playing above Michael Carrick in Manchester United’s midfield. The team you’d draw on the chalkboard looks much weaker without Thiago in the middle.
May 3, 2015, 12:45 AM EDT
The cream continues to rise to the top in Eastern Conference, while we still know next to nothing about the West.
May 2, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
The last undefeated team in MLS has fallen at the hands of the Revs, who look poised for another run to MLS Cup.
May 2, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT
D.C. United are for real. Very, very for real. The way they dominated Crew SC should put the rest of MLS on notice.
May 2, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Managers don’t usually come out this strong in hammering their own players, which really shocked The 2 Robbies.
May 2, 2015, 7:36 PM EDT
Managing a successful football team really isn’t as simple as Tim Sherwood makes it sound, but that’s why we love him.
May 2, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT
May 2, 2015 shall henceforth be known as The Day Giovinco Took MLS By Storm.
May 2, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT
For $7 million per year, Sebastian Giovinco scores goals like this.
May 2, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT
The title race is oh-so-close in Spain, while Juventus were (finally) officially crowned champions of Italy.
May 2, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT
It could all become official by around 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN.
May 2, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT
Borussia Dortmund draws at Hoffenheim, while Stuttgart stays bottom of the Bundesliga table.
May 2, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Recaps, reaction, videos and more from a busy Saturday in the PL.
May 2, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT
Call it an RV-PK gone awry.
May 2, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT
Saints “not at their level” as European qualification hangs in the balance.
May 2, 2015, 1:37 PM EDT
The Newcastle United manager went off after the Magpies lost their eighth-straight match, this one a listless, poor 3-0 showing at Leicester City.
May 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Gerrard has three more games for Liverpool before he moves to LA. Could this be his final goal at Anfield?
May 2, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
The eight goals are the most Cordoba have conceded in Spain’s top flight, and the Andalusian club is set for relegation.
May 2, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Brown Ideye is among the substitutes for the Baggies, with Saido Berahino starting up top.
May 2, 2015, 12:20 PM EDT
Jefferson Montero scored in the 76th minute before Ki Sung-yueng added one in stoppage time, as Swans have 53 points and a spot in eighth place.
May 2, 2015, 12:18 PM EDT
Gomez nets two PKs to give Mackems huge win, boost survival hopes.
May 2, 2015, 12:12 PM EDT
The Clarets have 26 points with three matches to play, and would need to win all three and see a complete collapse from several teams in front of them.
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