Pep's Thiago move leaves Moyes stranded in Bangkok

Posted by Mark Payne

Thiago AlcantaraGettyImagesManchester United and Bayern are battling to sign Barca's Thiago Alcantara.

"It's always better to do your business at the start of the window," David Moyes said at his press unveiling last Friday. Unfortunately, the changeover in management at Manchester United has slowed down their transfer dealings. As a result, it seems as though top target Thiago Alcantara will be playing his football elsewhere next season.

There were strong hints coming out of Germany on Thursday that Barcelona midfielder Thiago is set to rejoin old manager Pep Guardiola at European Champions Bayern Munich. Guardiola enjoyed a strong relationship with Thiago at the Camp Nou and handed the youngster his full debut against Real Mallorca in 2009.

- Pep: Thiago our primary target

"Thiago is the only player I want, that's what I told [the Bayern board]," Guardiola said. "It is either Thiago or no one. I know him very, very well. He is a super, super player."

That is an incredible endorsement of the youngster's talents, especially considering that the Bayern boss already has midfielders such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and new arrival Mario Goetze at his disposal.

Although Bayern must be considered favourites to sign Thiago, it would still represent a gamble for the player if he were to pitch up in Bavaria. The Spain international's stated aim is to get enough appearances to justify a seat on the plane to next year's World Cup. Breaking up Bayern's all-conquering midfield is an almighty task for the 22-year-old, no matter how talented, and there is no guarantee he won't be stuck on the bench once again.

It seems likely that Moyes has promised a starting berth to Thiago should he move to United. Indeed, the Manchester United manager seemed confident earlier in the week that a transfer could be completed.

Unfortunately, it seems the reigning European Champions will now start the new campaign with at least three midfielders better than United's best. No offence to Anderson, but he doesn't quite compare. It forces United back into the market.

It now seems inevitable that United will bid for Everton's Marouane Fellaini. This might not represent the bid some fans wish to see; it is, nonetheless, one that could bolster the side. Fellaini may lack the ball-playing finesse that United desire, but his muscular presence would improve an axis that can be lightweight at times.

The other option would be to stick Wayne Rooney back in midfield, if he stays at Old Trafford, and get him to cover that part of the pitch. This would not be the most diplomatic thing to do though. Rooney has been sacrificed too often over the past two seasons, and his stated desire is to play as the main striker.

Alternatively, Moyes might be advised to make a few late-night calls from his preseason preparations in Bangkok to inquire about the availability of Bayern's current midfielders. Guardiola has been in Munich for a few weeks now, and his move for Thiago suggests that someone is not in his future plans. United could do worse than taking on a European Cup winner with something to prove. Schweinsteiger, for example, would be most welcome in a Manchester United shirt.

Bayern put seven goals past Barcelona last year en route to winning the treble. No matter how unlucky United were in Europe, they weren't the match of a result of that magnitude. The only way Moyes' side can consider themselves contenders in Europe is by having a squad decent enough to match the best.

Losing Thiago would be a blow, and Moyes must react quickly.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

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