Thiago Alcantara Begins Pre-Season Training with Barcelona
Sky Sports are now reporting that the 22-year-old has joined up with his Barca colleagues to begin preparations for the season ahead, and he may even play a part in some friendly matches and tournaments.
Whilst this perhaps isn't as disastrous as some may think, it does beg the question as to why United are being so slow about the transfer.
By allowing Thiago to return to training, United are playing an incredibly risky game.
What if a Barca teammate or coach is able to convince the young Spaniard to stay with the club? What if Tito Vilanova notices a marked improvement in the player and informs him that he will have a place in the first team come the start of the campaign. After all, Thiago's inability to play on the first team is the main reason he wishes to leave the club?
This deal should have been wrapped up a while ago. But worryingly, it is following a disturbingly similar narrative to the Lucas Moura saga of last summer.
With news that Bayern Munich are still interested in the young talent, Manchester United have to be incredibly careful that their primary transfer target isn't lured elsewhere, as Moura was.
Acting with haste and soon is the way to ensure this.
On the midfielder returning to training with the squad, Barcelona spokesman, Toni Freixa, told Radio Catalunya (h/t Sam Lee of Goal.com): "We have the players we have. Thiago is one of those, and he'll start pre-season with the team as expected."
While this does seem like one of those classic "He is still our player (but not for much longer)" comments from Freixa, it doesn't detract from the issues and concerns I've already brought up regarding the sheer slowness of this deal.
Manchester United need to get a move on if they want to not only lure the son of World Cup winner Mazinho away from the Nou Camp, but also beat out rivals like Bayern to his signature.
If they act soon, then Thiago will be wearing the red of Manchester next season.
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