Bayern Munich announced Friday the club has signed Thiago Alcantara to a contract extension that sees the Spain international locked down at the Allianz Arena until 2021 … and you can bet the club’s front office will be all smiles that a deal was completed before the summer window.
Thiago has enjoyed quite the year in Bavaria, making 39 appearances, scoring eight goals, and recording eight assists. He’s a rare breed of midfield talent, offering versatility and tremendous skill. Here are three reasons why signing Thiago to a new deal was a smart bit of business:
Sending a message
Historically, Bayern looks forward when squad building, signing young talent and bleeding them with first-team football as soon as possible. It’s why the club invested an estimated combined total of €73 million for Renato Sanches, Kingsley Coman, Juan Bernat, and Joshua Kimmich, despite already boasting the likes of Arturo Vidal, Franck Ribery, David Alaba, and Jerome Boateng.
Bayern already had Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos when Thiago made the switch, and while the signing of Xabi Alonso mitigated the loss of Kroos, Thiago continued waiting for his starting chance … one that now came under Carlo Ancelotti.
Locking Thiago down now isn’t just a sign that the club wants to keep him; it serves as a message to young talent across Europe that, though Bayern may possess a treasure trove of talent today, the club is committed to affording chances for the future.
Establishing club loyalty
Thiago’s transfer to Bayern Munich was largely orchestrated by Pep Guardiola, who himself had only just made the switch to the Bundesliga. The astute Catalan tactician rightly saw potential in Thiago, so much so that he was willing to pry him away from his old club to bolster his new outfit.
Guardiola is an admirer of Thiago to this day, and there were fears that the player would follow him to Manchester City. Those have now been quashed.
City will be looking for reinforcements this summer, and while midfield may come second to a pair of new full-backs, Bayern won’t have to deal with the prospect of losing Thiago to a potentially renewed wave of interest from Guardiola in Manchester during the summer transfer window.
Few can challenge Bayern for the German throne, but its adversaries in Spain – whether Real Madrid or Barcelona – have been a handful in European competitions. It was the latter which sold Thiago to Bayern for €25 million, and it’s a move the Blaugrana might come to regret in the years ahead.
Andre Gomes hasn’t panned out for Barcelona and Andres Iniesta grows ever older. The Blaugrana will need to address their midfield options sooner rather than later, and Thiago was a perfect fit, having come up through Barcelona’s youth ranks.
Alas, Thiago may have become the subject of Luis Enrique’s fancy four years on, but it’s too late. The new deal doesn’t just strengthen Bayern; it weakens Barcelona, both on-field today and in its coin purse tomorrow.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)