The embarrassment of riches of this Barcelona side might just cost them the services of the latest young talent to roll off la Masia's production line. Thiago Alcantara, star of the recently victorious Spanish U-21 side could be on his way to Manchester United as the long term replacement for Paul Scholes.
With a midfield consisting of Xavi, Inestia, Busquets and with Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas potentially coming to the Camp Nou, opportunities for the youth player described as the 'pearl' of this current crop of youngsters could be limited. Step forward Manchester United who were all to reliant on Nani to provide creative flair in their midfield last season. Utd need a long term replacement for Scholes, a player who can play the killer pass and can run a game for them. Thiago could be exactly what they're looking for.
Thiago's cosmopolitan and sporting background suggests big things for his future. The son of a World Cup winner and a professional volleyball player athleticism runs in his veins. His father Mazinho who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994 has unsurprisingly gushed praise describing the young midfielder as 'complete'. If you want a more objective opinion his coach at U-21 describes him as 'technically gifted' an apt description considering his performance at the most recent tournament in Denmark. Born in Italy,he's lived much of his life in Barcelona and represents Spain at international level.
The presence of a player like Thiago was a noticeable difference when they played a lacklustre England team.
Able to play with both feet Thiago has the skill set required of all talented youth players now days. He's quick, able to move well with the ball at his feet as well as contributing to the attacking play. He seems comfortable setting the attacks into motion, driving forward and looking to play the killer pass for another forward. He can also contribute a few goals as his recent effort for the Spanish U-21 side is testament. He's been at the creative heart of the Spanish youth teams at both U-19 and U-21 level with his team performances in the latter particularity impressive. The presence of a player like Thiago was a noticeable difference when they played a lacklustre England team. His passing ability coupled with his ability to give Spain shape and tempo whilst attacking made the difference against teams like England.
Whilst his talent is not in question his opportunities at Barcelona might be. There is a long waiting list to play in the Barcelona midfield and Xavi, Inestia and Busquets have been unshakeable as a trokia. The recent signing of Afellay from PSV further complicates his path into the first team. If one or both of Sanchez and Fabregas arrive at Barcelona this summer then his opportunities to break into the first team could be further restricted. Despite some games in the Copa del Rey, he's been limited to only 6 league appearances since 2008. His father who is involved with his son's career has publicly stated that they don't want another B team contract. Thiago wants to play games for the senior team and it is looking more and more difficult to see this happening in meaningful numbers.
Manchester United need a new creative player in the heart of the midfield. As mentioned they relied too heavily on Nani during parts of the season. Giggs' role as a creative outlet is also diminishing despite a bright tail end to the season. With talents such as Wesley Sneijder and Luka Modric likely to command very high transfer fees, Thiago despite coming off the back of a good tournament, would be substantially cheaper. At 20 he's young enough to build a team around plus he would have sell on value if Manchester Utd wanted to move him on later. Even better, there's no problem of him disappearing off to Madrid..
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