With Thiago Alcantara seemingly now moving to Bayern Munich, Manchester United appear to be on the verge of missing out on another big target.
Should this be the case, it would be the latest in a growing line of disappointments to strike the red half of Manchester. Notable others have included Ronaldinho (Barcelona), Lucas Moura (PSG) and Eden Hazard (Chelsea).
In Alcantara’s case, it would appear to be a cultural concern. Should he turn down to chance to reunite with former boss Pep Guardiola, he would surely be likely to heed the advice of his national team manager Vicente del Bosque, who has come out in support of him turning down a move to Old Trafford in favour of staying at the Camp Nou.
United’s biggest signings in recent seasons have all been playing for English sides. Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie did not have to be persuaded to leave sunnier climes, or more importantly, an aesthetic brand of football to relocate to Manchester.
During his time at Everton, David Moyes tended to show an emphasis on physicality, as his preference for Victor Anichebe over Nikica Jelavic, and deployment of Marouane Fellaini in increasingly forward positions testify.
It is fair to say that Thiago’s vision and range of passing would not always be depended upon should he join the United squad. He has received some criticism in Spain over perceived indecision on the ball, a fault that is shown little mercy in Premier League football.
He may also be dissuaded by the move having seen the relative marginalisation of Shinji Kagawa under Sir Alex Ferguson, one with a similar physique and attributes to the Spaniard.
United would also appear to be the victims of the Premier League. While it may claim to be the best league in the world, ultimately the appeal of Barcelona and Real Madrid – and now Bayern Munich, with its newly-appointed Catalan influence – unfailingly manages to capture the imagination of the world’s most highly regarded talents.
There is an obligation for sides such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern to play a specific brand of football, one with an emphasis on maintaining possession, and it would be fair to argue that those clubs seek to define themselves on European, as opposed to domestic, supremacy. United have become the greatest side in Premier League history, and Champions League success would not appear to be such a firm stipulation, as the appointment of Moyes arguably shows. They are 11/1 to win the Champions League.
The Scot has a plethora of qualities that make him a suitable candidate for the Old Trafford hotseat, but an emphasis on short, cute passing and willingness to build from the back are not some of them.
While United will always attract the best of British talent – and consistently compete for domestic honours, consequently – the majority of top South American and continental talent does not always see the undoubted appeal of Old Trafford, with a mixture of cultural and footballing factors to blame.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing