“Out with the old and in with the new” should be a model to live by for any elite European football club given the frequency with which top players tend to swap allegiances.
At least Barcelona are familiar with the old adage, having just watched Thiago Alcantara link back up with former Barca mentor Pep Guardiola at his new Bayern Munich post, per the club’s official website.
Naturally, the search now begins to plug the hole left by the youngster's position, with candidates from both inside the club and external options among the possibilities.
Although Thiago wasn’t necessarily a lynchpin at the Camp Nou upon his departure, he was being primed to become just that, meaning any replacement would need to hold similar long-term value.
An option already at Barcelona’s disposal, Sergi Roberto has been tipped for some time as a future inclusion in the club’s first-team plans.
Just a year younger than the departed Thiago, Roberto has already started creeping into La Blaugrana’s senior side.
If Barca were to conserve their financial resources, the 21-year-old would be an interesting project for the club to invest time in, keeping alive the factory line of top-class talent to have emerged from the La Masia academy.
The player’s dedication isn’t to be doubted either. Earlier in July, per the club’s official website, Roberto stated that he would “fight to stay here (the Camp Nou) all my life.”
Marseille’s Mathieu Valbuena has come out as a swift potential replacement for Thiago, following some very consistent form in behind the Ligue 1 outfit’s attacking line.
Speaking to RMC Sport (h/t Goal.com), the player’s agent, Christophe Hutteau, told of supposed discussions with Barcelona’s sporting director regarding the future of his client:
I can confirm only that I discussed Mathieu with [Barca sporting director] Andoni Zubizarreta some time ago. He felt the same as their technical staff: that he’s is a very good player whom they all appreciate. He told me that a number of offensive players would leave Barca [this summer]. But Mathieu is currently at Marseille and is feels happy there.
Hutteau is quick to establish that Valbuena is happy with his current situation, but the player does in fact fit the same mould as Thiago or Andres Iniesta.
A central playmaker focused more on provision for others rather than personal glory, the unselfish Frenchman would be a strange acquisition for Barcelona given his age.
That being said, the 28-year-old could certainly do a job if only for a few seasons, but it would remain to be seen if that were as part of the starting XI or mainly from Barca’s bench.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that Barcelona already robbed Arsenal of Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song, the Spanish champions might look to make it three in thee years with a move for Jack Wilshere.
Which layer makes the most sense to replace Thiago?
The Gunners youngster has already captained the North London team and is being prepared for what fans of the club hope will be a long and fruitful career at the Emirates Stadium.
However, speculation was first sparked when Wilshere, per the Metro, tweeted a picture of his son, Archie, kited out in full Barcelona attire.
Such rumours are only helped when a player like Dani Alves is reported, also by the Metro, as saying that he wants Wilshere’s services in Catalan country.
A well-rounded midfielder, Wilshere is a full English international with some attributes not that unlike Thiago, and at just 21 years of age, he fits in perfectly with the Barca transfer model.