Thiago Alcantara unlikely to improve first-team chances at Bayern Munich, but his arrival could threaten Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery

The Barcelona midfielder is understood to favour a move to the Bundesliga over a switch to Manchester United

Two years ago, none of this would have been possible. Two years ago, given the choice between a move to Old Trafford or a move to the Allianz Arena, Thiago Alcantara would not have thought twice before choosing the former. Two years ago, FC Bayern would never have been able to tempt a player of his quality from a club like Barcelona.

That Bayern have been able to spoil United's party and look set to tie up a deal with Thiago is testament not only to the exponentially rising stock of Bayern and the Bundesliga, but also – primarily – to the Guardiola effect. Even as European Champions, it is difficult to believe that Bayern could so ceremoniously have lured the player in the direction of Munich.

By Guardiola's own admission, Thiago was “the only player for whom I made a direct request to the board.” The Bayern coach begins his mammoth task of bettering a triple winning season this summer, and is determined to be covered in all positions for the attack on all three competitions. The stance he has reportedly taken since February is that of “Thiago or nobody”, with even high profile target Robert Lewandowski taking secondary priority.

Now, it seems, the transfer is close to completion, with reports of an agreement between Barça president Sandro Rosell and Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and a figure of €21.7m already being discussed.

For Thiago, it would be a move which will see him reunited with his former mentor, and an opportunity to play more first team football than he has seen at the Camp Nou in recent times. Indeed, Bayern's interest in the player has already begun to raise questions over the future of established Bavarian midfielders such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos.

The idea that Thiago could replace such players, however, is misguided. Unlike that of star signing Mario Goetze, his arrival in Munich would not guarantee him regular first team football any more than if he had stayed in Catalonia. As a versatile central midfielder, he would certainly heighten an already fierce competition in defensive and attacking midfield alike, but Thiago is not yet a player who will walk into this Bayern team.

With Schweinsteiger and Kroos suffering from recurring injury issues and certain squad players such as Anatoliy Tymoschuk taking their leave of Munich this summer, though, Thiago is, as Guardiola has insisted, a transfer target who signifies Bayern's intent to win all six trophies on offer this season. Tactically, he will have little influence on the shape of Bayern's central midfield. A player who will slip equally comfortably into the defensive partnership of Schweinsteiger and compatriot Javi Martínez or the central attacking role currently filled either by Mueller or Kroos, he will provide Guardiola with the depth needed to clear up as many titles as possible.

His importance, though, is not simply in terms of a squad bolster. It also indicates that, for all Guardiola's insistences about the flexbility of his system, the wing based attack that Bayern have used in recent years may well be on its way out. Should Thiago be placed in attacking midfield, it would push Thomas Mueller out to the right, and leave no space for Champions League hero Arjen Robben. With the departure of target man Mario Gómez now confirmed as well, it is not difficult to imagine the Bayern midfield reshaping itself far more in the mould of Barcelona's come next year.

The greatest threat that Thiago poses then, is not to Schweinsteiger, but rather to the likes of Robben and Ribéry; the latter having already expressed some confusion over Guardiola's tactical set up.

But it is important not to get ahead of ourselves. The deal is not yet done, and if Thiago is serious about playing more first team football, he may yet think twice about joining a midfield as competitive as Bayern's. With Guardiola having expressed his distaste at the behaviour of his former employers at a recent press conference, moreover, there may be a long way to go before the two clubs find an agreement.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste