Making Sense of the Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool Transfer Rumours

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportJuly 28, 2020

Bayern's Thiago plays during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayern Munich at the Borussia Park in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool has been one of the more confusing transfer rumours of this summer.

It began with stories that he would not sign a new contract at Bayern Munich. It progressed with rumours that he would be looking for a new club, and it peaked when it was revealed Liverpool was his No. 1 destination.

But how has this happened, and what is the reality of the move coming to fruition? 

A potential transfer like this requires a deep dive, so we called upon sources and experts across Germany and England to help understand one of 2020's most fascinating storylines.

It was seven years ago that Thiago was lured to Munich by Pep Guardiola. The coach was a huge admirer of his style of play, and in that summer of 2013, he even went public to state the midfielder would be his only transfer target of the window.

The midfielder cost £21.6 million and proved to be a magnificent signing from Barcelona, making 231 appearances and establishing himself as one of the smartest players in the world.

He had won La Liga twice before arriving in Germany and has won the Bundesliga every season since landing in Munich. Nine league titles in 10 years is pretty good going.

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Sources around Bayern are shocked that he suddenly wants to leave. No one saw this coming.

With one year remaining on his current deal, officials at the club had been preparing a new contract for this summer and had not considered that he might leave. Past conversations had led them to believe Thiago was happy with new terms and an extension.

They drew up their offer in May, but Thiago told them he would need some time to think about his options. 

He made them wait for weeks and confusion reigned. Bayern discovered, one month later, that he had been thinking about the idea of a new challenge in England.

On our B/R Football Ranks podcast, Bild's head of sport Christian Falk explained: "The way he has gone about this is not gentleman-like, so I think he will leave. 

"I think he is very sure he has a club, and I think we know the club! But the question is whether they pay the fee. We are speaking about Liverpool, and they are not looking to spend too much money this yearthat's why they missed on [Timo] Werner."

It is understood that the Liverpool report was leaked from players within the team, who had picked up on the link and been discussing this outside of the team's training HQ.

It has accelerated to the point that very few people around the club believe there is much chance of a U-turn on the contract situation at Bayern. The team do not expect him to play for them next season.

Yet, what is strange, is that there has been very little to report at the Liverpool end of this story.

In times like this, it is sensible to look towards the local pack of reporters such as The Times' Paul Joyce, Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph, The Athletic's James Pearce and Dominic King of the Daily Mail for the most accurate briefings out of the club—but all are quiet on the subject or playing it down.

Earlier this month, Joyce briefly addressed the transfer: "Liverpool are unlikely to target Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara with Klopp playing a straight bat to the subject."

He then quoted the Liverpool boss as saying: "Thiago Alcantara is a really good player, like a lot of other players out there who I like a lot. But that is all I have to say about it."

Earlier this month, Pearce reported that Thiago "is keen to move to the Premier League and would relish the opportunity to work with Klopp. Down to the final year of his contract, he would be available for around £30 million.

"Klopp has previously eulogised about Thiago's talent, but senior sources at Liverpool insist it's currently unlikely that they will pursue a deal." 

On Monday, the Liverpool Echo reported that it has "always understood that such talk of a move this summer has been wide of the mark as the Premier League champions are not considering a move for Thiago at this present time."

So everything is quiet, it seems. Manchester United do also have some small interest in Thiago, so why did Liverpool arise as such a clear favourite to get him?

As one source suggested to B/R, Thiago "would not have gone down this path if he did not feel there was a chance of getting a move to a specific club."

To read between the lines, and to listen to opinions of well-informed journalists, it is likely that Jurgen Klopp's personal admiration for Thiago could be driving the story.

It is possible Thiago has been told this deal can be completed if he pushes for it.

But the Liverpool boss wanted Timo Werner earlier this summer and didn't get him, so would the board grant Klopp his wish this time? 

They have not made significant signings since the summer of 2018 when Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Naby Keita arrived, and the signs are that the Reds will continue to tread carefully in light of the potential COVID-19 impact on finances.

The idea of signing a 29-year-old midfielder on a big contract does not seem to fit the club's ethos, particularly as Bayern are hoping for a fee of €40 million.

But Liverpool might yet have more funds open up with sales, such as Dejan Lovren's move to Zenit St Petersburg for £11 million. Adam Lallana has joined Brighton as a free agent too, so squad spots are opening up.

The transfer window in England is open until October 5, so Liverpool have some time to survey their finances and judge how much they can afford to spend, and where.

Sources in Germany remain adamant that Bayern still have no idea where Thiago will end up, or what the driving force is for his sudden desire to move to the Premier League.

The only thing they do know is that Thiago seems to have a plan and is determined to pull it off.