Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Thiago Alcantara Makes Sense for Red Devils

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2013

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 18:  Thiago Alcantara of Spain poses with the trophy after winning the UEFA European U21 Championship final match against Italy at Teddy Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

It's always odd suggesting areas of improvement for a team that just won the Premier League title, but things won't be quite so easy for Manchester United this time around. Manchester City and Chelsea have new mangers, Arsenal have money to spend and Tottenham have, well, Gareth Bale. 

So where does United need to improve? The club could use some depth defensively, sure, and perhaps another pure winger to play out wide. 

But one of the biggest areas the club should look to bolster under new manager David Moyes is in the midfield, namely adding a creative, technically sound force in the middle of the pitch.

Enter Barcelona and Spain U-21 starlet Thiago Alcantara.

From Graeme Yorke of the Daily Mail:

Moyes has held a long standing interest in Thiago, who illuminated the recent European Under 21 Championships, but hasn't had the financial muscle at Everton to engineer a move. United, too, have been on the 22-year-old's trail since his late teens.

The son of Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho has grown frustrated with his lack of playing time at the Nou Camp since 2011, and it is that shortage of action which means he is available for a cut-price £15million.

When he signed a new deal two years ago, a clause was inserted which stipulated the midfielder must feature for at least 30 minutes in 60 per cent of matches. He however fell short of that time on the pitch in 15 of his 36 appearances.

As Barca failed to give Thiago, who scored a hat-trick in Spain U21's final win over Italy on Tuesday, his designated playing time, his release fee dropped from £77m to a far more affordable £15m.

Given the club has reportedly been chasing Cesc Fabregas all summer to no avail, Thiago would be an excellent alternative. 

It would obviously be far too high praise to compare Thiago to Xavi, but he plays a similar style and is technically sound, crisp and composed. Where he differs from Xavi is that he isn't quite as metronomic in his passing or movement, adding a bit of unpredictability and creativity to the package.

For United, he could pair with a more defensive partner in the back two of a midfield triangle, or play atop that triangle as a central attacking midfielder, acting as the creative hub for United. 

There's no question Alcantara is ready to receive far more regular playing time. The question is whether a team like Manchester United would fit his style, as for Barcelona and Spain he's become accustomed to playing a tiki-taka brand of football.

Possession is certainly important for United, but the team is just as comfortable spreading the play wide and pushing quickly up the field. Of course, it remains to be seen what sort of tactical tweaks Moyes will make at the club this year.

While United fans may want to see a more physical presence added to the midfield like a Marouane Fellaini, who of course played for Moyes at Everton, Thiago would give this squad a whole new technical presence. 

It would be interesting to see how United would utilize the young Spaniard, but I don't doubt Thiago would quickly become a hit at Old Trafford.


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