Which Players Will Be Affected by Thiago Alcantara's Move to Bayern Munich?
He's a "super, super player" decreed Pep Guardiola, per the Guardian, on Monday July 15 when news finally broke of Thiago Alcantara's imminent move to Bayern Munich. Pep was grinning, Munich was buzzing and England was shunned. Barcelona's next wonder-kid had picked the German and European champions in the 11th hour.
Yet once the Bavarian confetti had finally fallen to the ground, the reaction toward such a fantastic player moving to such an illustrious club wasn't that of joy or optimism. Rather, the world's press announced their concern. This wasn't a wise move on Bayern's part; it was overkill.
For within the ranks of Bayern Munich's squad already lie the coming midfielders and attackers that will one day rule world football, just as some already proved in May. Now Thiago, the favoured horse in this stable of stallions, has arrived with the intention of pushing a few of these established thoroughbreds off to pastures new.
Xherdan Shaqiri, bought from FC Basel for a reported €11.6 million last summer, is one such player who'll have found little salvation in the recent transformation that his club has found itself going through since Pep Guardiola took over.
For a young player such as Shaqiri, who only started 13 games last season, game time is essential in his continued development as an attacking forward, and as things stand, he has no reason to believe that more participation in the first team is likely.
Equally, his colleague Luis Gustavo, the dependable defensive midfielder who just recently won the Confederations Cup with Brazil, has found it hard of late to cling on to a commendable spot in this ever-changing side.
With the introduction of Javi Martinez last summer, the Brazilian international was comfortably displaced from the first team and found himself spending much of the season on the bench as the new Spanish defensive midfielder and vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger worked up a productive partnership that would ultimately win the treble for Bayern Munich.
An equally troubling factor for the future of Gustavo's Bayern career is also the emergence, or Pep Guardiola's promotion, of certain players from the youth team who directly compete with Gustavo's role in the squad.
Pierre Höjbjerg, Emre Can and Mitchell Weiser are all emerging talents with a future under Pep Guardiola that may well spell the end for Luis Gustavo.
Yet no player in this squad risks losing quite as much as Toni Kroos.
Once a boy-wonder and favoured son of ex-coach Jupp Heynckes, the midfielder has found his position in this team fall from playmaker of choice to partner in crime alongside Mario Gotze, and now he's arguably no more than a simple backup in the presence of Thiago.
Essential in the initial stages of last season's campaign, Kroos falls short in comparison to the likes of Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery in no more than a simple injury that forced him out of Bayern's side as they made their final march to European dominance. While his teammates became legend and a part of the club's history last May, Kroos returns to the squad after his injury as a man amongst gods.
Despite being regularly regarded as one of the most creative playmakers in Europe at the moment, and still at such a young age, Kroos now finds himself in the odd position of being one of the continent's most gifted midfielders yet part of the surplus of demand at Bayern Munich. A situation dripping with irony when we consider Thiago's own reasons for leaving Barcelona.
As Pep Guardiola welcomed his new signing to Munich, a quick remark was made as to why the player chose to leave Barcelona in the first place. “It only arises when they sense that they will play less, or little," he said, via the New York Times. A piece of advice some of his own players may now be wise to consider.
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