Thiago Alcantara: Are Man Utd or Chelsea the better fit?
Manchester United and Chelsea have both been linked with Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, but would these teams suit him?
Midfielder Thiago Alcantara has been linked with a move away from Bayern Munich this summer, with Manchester United and Chelsea both supposedly interested in the Spanish midfielder, as per the Daily Mail.
It was Pep Guardiola that originally brought Thiago to Bayern Munich, seeing the player as key to the possession-based system he wanted to use. However, the Bundesliga side now have an overload of midfielders, including World Cup winner Corentin Tolisso, Arturo Vidal, Leon Goretzka and young talent Renato Sanches.
Now could be a good time to cash in on Thiago, and an opportunity for the Spanish midfielder to ensure he will still get playing time next season with both United and Chelsea viable destinations.
But would he fit in to either of these teams?
Thiago has been linked to Manchester United before in 2013 – when David Moyes was manager – but he decided to join Bayern Munich from Barcelona instead.
With Jose Mourinho now in charge, however, questions have been raised over Thiago’s suitability to Manchester United seeing as he was previously a key player for Guardiola, whose style is drastically opposed to the that of the Portuguese.
Nonetheless, Thiago is an extremely versatile player. Bayern normally play in a 4-2-3-1 formation and Thiago either plays as an attacking midfielder or on the left of the deeper double pivot.
Whilst Mourinho’s preferred formation is a 4-3-3, the Red Devils did, at times, use the same system, which would provide space for Thiago. In a three-man midfield, though, especially one used in defensive, counter-attacking football, it’s hard to fit the Spaniard in given the arrival of Fred.
His transfer could become more likely if United decide to let Pogba leave this summer, with Juventus reportedly courting the midfielder. Thiago would be an excellent replacement for him and could slot straight into a deep lying partnership with Nemanja Matic or on the left of a midfield three.
Thiago’s best attributes, however, are his ball retention and creative range of passing, which often become redundant in a Mourinho side focussing on quick transitions and caring little for possession.
New manager Maurizio Sarri is more alike to Guardiola than Mourinho, and the way he should set up his team would suit Thiago.
At Napoli, Sarri had a three-man midfield which was constantly moving, with one player providing an attacking threat , one controlling the tempo at the base and another playing a box-to-box role, providing defensive cover when necessary.
Many of Chelsea’s midfielders – such as Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fabregas – do not have the pace or mobility to play in such a midfield, and Sarri has already brought in Jorginho from his old club to deal with this.
Thiago could fit into this midfield best at the tip, in the position Marek Hamsik occupied at Sarri’s Napoli. His vision and creative passing would help break down packed defences, whilst he’s brilliantly adept at retaining the ball. Coupled with Jorginho and Kante, it would be a devastating midfield.
An uncertain future
With Bayern currently overloaded with midfielders, Thiago might have to move away to ensure regular football as the club look to cash in whilst they can.
Whilst both Manchester United and Chelsea could suit him, a place in Sarri’s midfield would the most attractive to a player steeped in the tradition of possession.