What comes to our minds when we think of Barcelona? Silverware? Red and Blue stripes? Camp Nou? Leo Messi, maybe? Excellent. But what is it that actually separates this great Catalan club from its comrades? Well, the answer is simple – their famous youth academy, La Masia, which has produced world-class footballers like Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and above all, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner and arguably the greatest player to have played the game, Lionel Messi.
The way they have discovered, developed and nurtured these players is commendable; but the rate at which they have produced these superstars only comes back to hit the four-time European champions. Thiago Alcántara, 22, who is one their finest youth products, wants a move out. The 2013 UEFA Under-21 Championship winning captain is arguably one of the best young midfielders in the world. And seeking his signature is arguably the best club in England – Manchester United.
To those who have followed top-flight football, Thiago will be no stranger. The Barcelona number 11 is a technically gifted central midfielder. He has an amazing vision and passing range. What spices up the platter are his very skillful feet, which are more than capable of taking long shots and lethal set-pieces. He is very good at linking up with players in both halves and has an uncanny ability of keeping the ball – a quality apparently every Barca product is imbibed with.
Manchester United manager David Moyes knows, as do the fans, that this could well be a match made in heaven. They have tried being surreptitious in the past, but Manchester United’s midfield problems are more than just ocular. Their failure to compete with the best is highlighted by their mediocrity in the middle of the park. This eventually forced Sir Alex Ferguson to shift Wayne Rooney into midfield, which ultimately forced the forward to post a transfer request. The England international said he believes that he has more goals left in his career and would like to play upfront. It’s funny how one thing leads to another!
Last season, Carrick played a massive role in the midfield. He took the weight of the central midfield entirely upon his shoulders. But how long will Man United depend on the former Spurs man? He couldn’t find a regular partner in the midfield. Tom Cleverley showed a few moments of brilliance, but failed the test of consistency. Anderson never lived up to his potential due to injuries and never will, from the looks of it. Darren Fletcher has been out of top-flight football for a long time. Moreover, his health problems worsen the situation. In such a case, United desperately need a wily midfielder.
Red Devils’ number 1, David de Gea, 22, who is also Thiago’s close friend, has been trying to persuade the latter to join the club. Much to the delight of the fervent fans, David signed the match ball, which Thiago got to keep after his hat-trick in the UEFA Under-21 Championship final against Italy, leaving a note “Nos vemos en Manchester” – which translates to “See you in Manchester”. It was confirmed by ESPN’s Miguel Delaney that it was indeed de Gea who wrote those words on the match ball.
The club has reportedly approached the young Spaniard and has guaranteed him a first team spot straightaway. The deal will cost the club around £17 million, which is a bargain given what the man’s capable of. Moreover, by obliterating the midfield problems, Moyes will get a perfect start to his Manchester United career.
The fans love him, the team needs him. What more can I say? Just a hopeful – “Nos vemos en Manchester”