Thiago Alcantara's Potential Is Too Massive for Barcelona to Sell Young Star

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 23, 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

Young Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara has drawn loads of interest from Manchester United and could end up changing locations this summer, but Barca must do all they can to hold onto their prized future star.

According to Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, the English Premier League champions are keen on activating Thiago's £17 million release clause and making him a Red Devil. 

Barcelona are high on the 22-year-old Spaniard to be a major force in the future, but right now he's stuck behind Xavi and Andres Iniesta and hasn't been able to emerge as a full-time starter in the midfield.

His lack of playing time has dropped the release clause in his contract from a staggering €90 million to €18 million (£17 million), since he didn't appear in 60 percent of Barcelona's total playing time, per Brendon Netto of 

His worth was shown in the U-21 European Final against Italy, when Alcantara netted a hat trick for Spain in the telling match. 

Obviously, such a huge buyout clause to begin with only shows how massive Thiago's potential truly is and how much value Barcelona believe their young midfielder has. It's no surprise that Manchester United are chasing the heavily-reduced rate for a player who could become one of the world's best in a number of years.

But all Barcelona must do is convince Thiago to stay put at Camp Nou, and if they do, they won't have to worry about the reduced price.

However, that'll be easier said than done for a player who, despite being just 22 years of age, has already proven worthy of securing a starting spot for a world-class squad.

It's nothing short of unfortunate for Thiago that he's stuck behind valuable players such as Xavi and Iniesta. But as Pique stated in Jackson's report, he wouldn't be the first Barcelona player to benefit from waiting his turn.

"There is a possibility that he could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona. Players in his position like Xavi were patient and they ended up defining an era."

Xavi himself chimed in on his thought toward the 22-year-old, per Jackson's report. 

"I'd advise Thiago to stay patient because he's a player who is bound to be a success at Barça. I think he is an extraordinary player. Thiago is not just a player for the future, but he is someone who can make an impact right now."

If Thiago took a step back and assessed the situation, he'd realize that Xavi is 33 years old and has had his fair share of injury problems. The days are numbered before Thiago will be able to claim that starting spot for good.

However, until Barca put their money where their mouths are and include Alcantara on a match-by-match basis, he'll continue to grow unhappy with life in Spain and seek a new challenge where he can be a consistent starter. 

No one could blame Thiago if he found interest with Manchester United and took his talents to England, especially not Barcelona. 

But priority No. 1 for the Barca players, coaches and fans should be to convince the young star that he'll be a mainstay in their midfield for many, many years to come. 

If they don't, it'll likely mean the exit of one of their most prized players.