Thiago Alcantara Would Complete Manchester United's Attack

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 18:  Thiago Alcantara of Spain celebrates his team's second goal during the UEFA European U21 Championship final match between Italy and Spain at Teddy Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Manchester United look to have finally gotten their man.

Jack de Menezes of The Independent reported a deal between United and Barcelona for Thiago Alcantara was "close." The reason for the move was the player's lack of first-team football:

With Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas occupying the midfield for much of the year, Thiago—seen as one of the rising stars of Spanish football—is determined to play more regularly than he is currently afforded by coach Tito Vilanova.

United’s new boss David Moyes is a fan of the Barca player, and the club’s chief scout Martin Ferguson gave his recommendation that they should pursue the services of the youngster.

It's out of Barca's hands at this point because they did not play Thiago enough this past season. He's got a release clause. Once a club hits that magic number, he's free to go.

Although it feels like the move is a foregone conclusion, The Times' Jamie Ducker reported that a deal between United and Thiago is not on the immediate horizon.

Still, there hasn't been any other substantial news that another club is in the fold for the player. Seeing Thiago move to a different club, or even stay at Barcelona, would be a major shock.

It would also be a huge loss for Manchester United because he's the central playmaker the club has lacked for the past four or five seasons.

Each summer window in the past, it felt like the Red Devils were in for a midfielder like Lucas Moura, Luka Modric or Wesley Sneijder. And each summer they failed to address what had become a major issue for the club.

Sure Manchester United were good enough to win the Premier League without a creative option in midfield. However, if they wanted to compete with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and the other elite European clubs, they had to do something that would solve the problem.

They haven't and, as a result, United was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League two years ago and lost in the round of 16 this past year.

With Thiago, David Moyes could feel comfortable knowing that his attack finally has the last piece of the puzzle.

At 22 years old, Thiago is still far from a finished product. In the short term, the club could be better off by targeting a more established player in his prime. In the long term, though, Thiago is the best the club could hope for.

Plus, at €18 million, he's a steal. The club could easily sell him for twice that amount in a few years if the situation arises.

Thiago is a tremendous passer for his age and will only get better. Playing in Barca's system, he has learned how to make quick decisions, sometimes knowing what he'll do with the ball before he even receives it.

There will be a bit of an adjustment as he goes from Barcelona's tiki-taka style to whatever Moyes will use at United. It shouldn't be a very long transition.

Generally, it's not a good idea to judge a player after only one tournament. Given Thiago's reputation, though, watching him at the Under-21 European Championships just made your mouth water. He scored a hat-trick against Italy in the final and was in general a colossus in the attack.

Thiago did a little bit of everything, whether it was supporting his strikers, winning the ball in midfield, or getting into attacking positions himself to finish off a move.

Thiago will be the perfect compliment in midfield with Michael Carrick. Carrick had a great season, but it's apparent he can't be a creative option. With him and Thiago, you've got players who bring distinctly different attributes.

Then you've got Thiago providing the link up to Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez.

Considering how good United has been without a creative midfielder, it's scary to think where they'll go should they finalize a deal with Thiago.


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