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Should Barcelona pursue Thiago, with rumours of him leaving Bayern emerging?

Suhas Achanta

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Header Image by Aflosport via Imago

Barcelona and its fans have an undisputed soft corner for their former and current Bayern midfield maestro Thiago Alcântara. The 29-year-old Spaniard is believed to be considering leaving Munich, though, which could have culés excited.


La Masía graduate Thiago Alcântara has been enjoying some marvellous seasons at Bayern Munich since he joined them in 2013 from Barcelona. Nonetheless, the news broke out last night when German newspaper SportBild announced that his spell in the Bundesliga could be coming to an end soon. His contract with the Bavarians expires in June 2021, and the papers for a renewal seemed to be fixed and negotiated already.

But, at the last moment, Thiago reportedly hesitated to sign, making the directives believe that he wanted to depart. The latest rumours have been linking him with Liverpool, who are interested in him as manager Jürgen Klopp really values him. That said, for several years the older of the Alcântara brothers seemed to be close to a homecoming to Catalonia, with the player apparently still interested in a move back to the Camp Nou. The prospect of him returning to Barcelona has got fans excited, and in this piece, we shall see if it is the right move for both parties.

Synopsis

Every single Barça fan would only have good things to say about Thiago Alcântara when asked about him. Ever since he left the Catalan outfit to join Bayern, unrest began to sprout up amidst the fans. Till this day, several people believe that letting go of Thiago was one of the worst decisions their board has ever taken. As we already know the several reasons why the hierarchy is already distrusted, the Spaniard’s exit always comes up whenever the fans express their overall frustration.

Thiago is one of the most joyful players to watch. His technical capabilities are lauded by even rival fans. The blaugrana enthusiasts got to see magical dribbling, extraordinary close-control, and fabulous passes for a good number of years. His distribution, intelligence, and artfulness are still appreciated by everyone. His style of play was so impactful that Barcelona supporters make it a habit to tune into Bayern’s games to watch him play.

Andrés Iniesta Xavi Hernández Thiago Alcântara Bayern Barcelona

Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández were impossible competition for Thiago Alcântara, who decided to follow Pep Guardiola’s path to Bayern Munich | Photo by Aflosport via Imago

Unfortunately for him, he was one of the several talents who were victims to the Iniesta–Xavi effect. Undoubtedly, Thiago had immense potential and posed the capabilities to be a regular for Barcelona. However, when you considered both Barça and the Spanish national team, the reality was that there was no way he would bench one of Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández. He isn’t the only one who was victim to that era of excellence. Valencia’s Dani Parejo practically went under the radar because Barcelona’s legendary midfield duo was simply undroppable for Spain.

Naturally, in search of a more meaningful role, Thiago left for Bayern. He had an excellent all-round development under a variety of managers. From Pep Guardiola to Carlo Ancelotti, Jupp Heynckes and even current boss Hans-Dieter Flick, Thiago got to showcase his capabilities under great coaches. Now 29, he still has plenty of top-tier football left in him. It’s probably the right time for him to consider making another move in his career for a fresh challenge.

Why is Barcelona’s interest marginally sensible?

One of the first clubs that Thiago was immediately linked to once the rumours of his exit emerged was none other than Barcelona. The fans would gladly take him back with open arms, and even he would love to return to his boyhood club. He has a chance to play a more vital role in the azulgranas’ system and become the focal point of their possessional play. Clearly, a return to the Camp Nou can’t be written off as he would be back in a familiar system that wouldn’t require him to compromise his playing style.

The entire footballing world is aware of Arthur Melo‘s frustrating situation. With fresh rumours emerging yesterday that Juventus had reached an agreement on his transfer fee, fans have been fuming. Indeed, the prospect of losing a gem of a player like 23-year-old Arthur after just two seasons is something that the fans can’t digest.

There is now a growing fear within the Catalans’ camp that the Brazilian might actually get persuaded to join Juve. Arthur has already stated several times that he wants to stay at the Camp Nou. But nobody could blame him if he changed his mind considering the way the board is treating him.

Thiago Alcântara Bayern Barcelona

Could Thiago be wearing the red and blue colours, but of Barcelona, again? | Photo by Imago

Furthermore, Miralem Pjanić is touted to be heading to Spain. Much to the fans’ frustration, losing Arthur for 30-year-old Pjanić is something hard to take. And this is why Thiago’s situation at Bayern is actually worth monitoring. He is a year younger than Pjanić and is loved by the fans. Instead of shelling the money that comes from Arthur’s transfer directly onto a mismatched profile like Pjanić, the board should actually consider going for Thiago. He would cost lesser and is more suitable for Barça’s style of play.

The fact that he was already nurtured with the Barcelona way would help him fit into the team seamlessly. A midfield combination of Frenkie de Jong, Thiago and Sergio Busquets is something that the fans would enjoy watching. Furthermore, Quique Setién’s side has lacked a spark in the midfield, which can be solved by bringing the magician back.

The reality

As much as culés love the prospect of seeing their favourite Spaniard back, there’s a need to put the brakes and talk facts. Thiago Alcântara’s return is hampered by the issues that pertain to both footballing and non-footballing reasons. Firstly, the Barcelona board has a proven record of letting the fans down. They aren’t going to look for a midfielder unless they sell Arthur. And even if that happens, a swap for Miralem Pjanić seems to be the inevitable outcome.

Regrettably, the board doesn’t seem to be considering what the team actually needs tactically. Instead, president Josep Maria Bartomeu and co are only looking at high-profile signings that would enhance the revenue via shirt sales. Although Thiago is high-profile, the board probably wouldn’t have even thought of bringing him back as they seem hell-bent on signing Pjanić.

Thiago Alcântara Bayern Barcelona

Letting Thiago go in the first place was an unforgivable mistake from Barcelona | Photo by Vladimir Rys via Imago

The second issue that Barcelona fans don’t like to hear is the fact that Thiago is so injury-prone. A glance through his injury history would be enough to discourage those who are hoping for his return. Thiago has missed 129 games for Bayern because of injuries. That is a total of 619 days without playing football due to distress and damage throughout his body, particularly his knee. 

The Catalans simply cannot ignore the fact that Thiago’s record of injuries brings an unbelievable amount of uncertainty. His fitness issues make him unreliable. And so, bringing him back would only give a massive headache to the medical staff, who are already doing a poor job. In addition to Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembélé, dealing with Alcântara’s fitness problems would be something that the coach wouldn’t be able to handle.

Conclusion

As much as people want it to happen, there are sporting and non-sporting aberrations that obstruct Thiago Alcântara from returning to the Camp Nou. He is possibly cheaper, with his contract expiring next year, and more suited than Miralem Pjanić. Yet the age and injury record of Thiago, who no longer is a youngster, could be arguments to have in mind. Losing Thiago through injury in the crucial part of the season would be a massive blow for the azulgranas if they acquired him.

Still, regardless of whether Arthur Melo departs or not, Barça would still have reliable alternatives in case of Thiago’s absence. The rise of Riqui Puig seems to be worthy of excitement, and other intriguing prospects like Carles Aleñá and Álex Collado must be seriously considered too. Thiago, already in his prime, could be the bridge before some of them become undisputed starter.

The creativity and wizardry of Thiago, as well as the joy that the prodigy’s return would provoke in culés, should make Barcelona aim at him in case he was available. While Thiago Alcântara is not completely needed, if he was accessible for a fair price the board should undoubtedly consider him as he is the one experienced player the squad can afford to incorporate.


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I started writing so that I could bridge the gap and pass time on days when there were no matches. But little did I know that writing about the beautiful game would amp up my love for it. I've always wanted to learn more, and share whatever insights I have on the game, to anyone, anywhere. The world stops for 90 minutes when your team plays, and that for me is very much true.

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Five players that Barcelona could off-load in order to sign Erling Haaland

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Photo via Imago

In Catalonia, many news outlets are reporting that President-elect Joan Laporta is keen to bring the Norwegian sensation, Erling Braut Haaland, to Barcelona. Laporta’s excellent ties with Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola are known throughout the footballing fraternity. He is keen to use this cordial relationship to bring probably one of the most talented young centre-forwards to Camp Nou.

Haaland’s Contract situation

There have been many rumours about Haaland’s contract and his release clause. It’s said that Dortmund have let in known privately that Haaland’s contract includes a release clause of €75 Million. However, this is valid only from 2022; if any club wishes to sign him before, they need to open talks with Borussia Dortmund and his agent Mino Raiola.

With all said, it looks certain that almost every big club in the world will be looking to land this deal which is rumoured to cost €110 Million. Barcelona’s precarious financial situation means that Laporta and his team needs to make a decision to make some big sales in order to complete the dream of signing Haaland. We take a look at 5 players that Barca can sell in order to get the required funds.

Phillipe Coutinho

The market value of the Brazilian currently stands around €47 Million. After his very successful loan spell at Bayern Munich, he publicly stated that he was determined to make it big at Barcelona. Ronald Koeman also said that he admires the qualities Coutinho has and would be an integral part of his project. However, six months into the season, it seems that the Brazilian has gone out of favour at the club. The emergence of Pedri and Moriba also doesn’t help his case. It has been reported that if Coutinho plays 100 matches for the Blaugranes, the club will need to pay an additional €20 Million to Liverpool.

Photo by Vitalii Vitleo Kliuiev via Imago

Given the fact that Barcelona have many parasitic clauses in the contract with former Liverpool player, it’s very doubtful that any club would be willing to offer what his market value is. A long term injury which has forced him out for a big chunk of the season will also play a part in deciding the transfer sum the Catalan club can get in the transaction.

Antoine Griezmann

The French forward has not been able to fit perfectly in the system Barcelona plays, he has produced some good performances in the new year, but lacks the ability to move the ball quickly and take on defenders. Former Barca legend, Hristo Stoichkov, had some very harsh words for Griezzy, “Whenever Griezmann is on the pitch, Barcelona play with ten players. If they want to do something in the long term, they have to sell him. Trincao and Braithwaite must be on the team. What is Griezmann doing there?”, said the Bulgarian to Marca.

Photo via Imago

Griezmann is currently valued at €58 Million, given his wonderful finishing and relentless work off the ball, many big clubs might be interested in getting his services. The French forward will turn 30 this month, a number many clubs will be looking at very closely while making their decision to sign him.

Martin Braithwaite

The Danish forward, without any doubt, is a very hardworking player and has improved on various skills of forward play in his time at Barcelona. With that said, it’s a no brainer to realise the fact that he cannot be Barcelona’s only No.9. Many PL clubs from the bottom half are rumoured to be fond of the former Leganes man. With Barcelona targeting Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, the danish would certainly become a fringe player and the club will be open to hearing offers for him.

Junior Firpo

The Dominican Republic fullback was brought in with the motive to give Jordi Alba some competition at the left-back spot. Under all the three managers Barcelona has had during his tenure at the club did not play him much. Barcelona were open to selling him in the January window itself with Inter Milan in the pole position to acquire his services. However, due to some personal reasons, the move was stalled and Junior ended up staying for the remainder of the season.

Miralem Pjanic

The Bosnian midfielder was part of what one can say the worst deal that Barcelona has ever made. It’s a relatively known fact that Pjanic was a part of the deal which was meant to ‘balance the books’ by the Bartomeu administration. The former Juventus man has failed to add anything new to the squad and has been out of favour for a long time now. A deal that would see him go to some other big club in Europe would benefit both parties.

The Twist: Leo Messi

After the very unfortunate leaking of Messi’s contract, the entire world is aware of the astronomical contract he has. If the Argentine wizard decides to leave eventually at the end of the season, the club will surely free a very big amount from the wage bill which can be used to make some necessary additions to this squad.

It remains to be seen how things will pan out in the coming summer, but one thing is for sure that Barcelona needs to clear a lot of their squad depth in order to realize the dream to bring the Haaland to Camp Nou.

A thing that can be said with certainty is that Laporta is keen to make the signing of Haaland a reality, and come July, Barca will be into the most important transfer window of their history which will shape the future of the club for many years to come.

Stats from Transfermarkt.com

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