For several weeks, the transfer of Thiago to United was reported as more or less a done deal. Despite David Moyes’ claims that the Barca player wasn’t a priority for United, we’ve been interested in signing him for a couple of years and it’s unlikely we would have passed up the opportunity to buy him. The club met with his agent a few weeks ago but then it all went quiet.
When Pep Guardiola announced his intention to sign the player it was game over. Thiago had played for Pep when he was in charge of Barcelona B and he was the manager to give Thiago his debut for the first team when he was 18-years-old. In Guardiola’s last season as manager Thiago racked up 45 appearances for the first team. You can hardly begrudge Thiago for wanting to be reunited with his former manager at the home of the current German and European champions, especially with United losing Alex Ferguson over the summer and their poor European record. United may be priced at 2/1 by Ladbrokes to win the Premier League but Thiago wanted to play for the national team and he knows that if he makes it at Bayern, under Guardiola, he will be playing at the absolute pinnacle of club football.
It has been reported today that United didn’t make contact with Barcelona over the player, which either suggests United weren’t that interested or, more likely, that they didn’t reach an agreement with the player’s agent so deemed in pointless making an offer. The fact that Thiago’s agent, Pere, is the brother of the Bayern Munich manager makes it all fairly obvious that the player has always known of Pep’s interest and therefore only ever really had intentions of leaving Barcelona for Germany.
In response to “losing out” on Thiago, United then put in a bid for Cesc Fabregas, worth £25m or more. What’s that all about? Whilst it’s reassuring to see the club going for world class players, the timing of it makes little sense. If Fabregas is genuinely a player we are after, a priority, why not put in an offer as soon as the transfer window opened? It was likely that Thiago was going to leave the club, so if we really wanted Fabregas, surely it would make sense to get in there first. It would be very surprising if Barcelona were prepared to let two quality midfielders go in one summer. If United’s priority was Thiago, as soon as it became apparent that he was probably going to Bayern Munich, United needed to move for Fabregas then.
The fact that United have gone in with a bid for Fabregas does suggest they believe the player would be open to moving to United, as this is what prevented them for making a bid for Thiago, but the whole affair seems fairly pointless. Fabregas played 48 games for Barcelona last season, but only 19 of those were for the full 90 minutes, so he would certainly get more playing time at Old Trafford. However, you imagine Fabregas would take 48 games with Barcelona, even if not the first name on the teamsheet, over playing every week for United. They are his boyhood club, the dream, and after just two years there it’s not likely he will want to give up on them yet. Iniesta and Xavi aren’t getting any younger, with the latter struggling with injuries, so it would make sense for Fabregas to bide his time. The only slight hope there may be in regards to playing time is the fact the World Cup in Brazil follows next season and Cesc could do with being in the spot light.
The only way Fabregas would be up for leaving, you imagine, is if Barcelona let him know they were prepared to sell him. The recent capture of Neymar could see a shift in Barca’s formation, with both the Brazilian and Messi being offered a more freeing attacking role, and Fabregas’ potential place in the team could be offered to the more defensive Song or Mascherano.
Moyes met with Charlie Wyett from The Sun last week and told him that players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were ones we were looking at. It’s hard to know how much of this is truth and how much is just planned PR from the club. Our new CEO, Ed Woodward, claimed: “we haven’t got money burning a hole in our pocket but we have got a strategy on player purchases and if David wants to go after a stellar player he can do that.” He also said United were “absolutely” able to compete for players in the £60million-£70million bracket. But let’s not forget that David Gill kept telling us we had the £80m from Ronaldo to spend, but we’ve averaged a net spend of just over £30m per season in the three years since his sale. In the three years before his sale our net spend averaged at just over £20m and in that time the likes of Modric, Sneijder and Ozil have moved clubs and you have to go back to 2007 to find our last midfield buy, Owen Hargreaves. Unfortunately, the club talks shit at times and you can’t trust them to be entirely honest with the fans.
So was the Fabregas bid United attempting to show to everyone they can still flex their financial muscle, with the safety of knowing that Barcelona wouldn’t accept it following the sale of Thiago? Do United genuinely want to sign Fabregas but have been too slow off the mark and ruined any chance they might have had of getting him? Was Thiago the one we really wanted and now we’re desperately resorting to plan B?
It isn’t time to panic just yet. Robin van Persie didn’t sign for us until August 15th and Wayne Rooney’s transfer was completed on August 31st. There is still plenty of time for us to bring in a world class player, if that’s what the club intends. It goes without saying that Fabregas would be a great buy for us, but this bid seems very strange, so you should probably hold off on getting his name printed on the back of your kid’s shirt.