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.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones