New Old Trafford boss David Moyes could get a crash course in hardball negotiations with Europe’s ‘in demand’ talent when he pursues the signing of long time United target Thiago Alcantara. With everyone’s attention on how the Scotsman will fare in replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes will need to tread a fine line between securing the deal and not being eased into an agreement that does not favour the club. It’s a stance that his predecessor had perfected, and now Moyes must prove his worth.
Although the player appears keen to consider the option of joining the Reds, United are not the only game in town, and other suitors may be more pliable to demands. The main problem appears to be that the 22 year old wants an assurance of regular first team football. He remains concerned that last season saw him only as a cameo star in the Blaugrana firmament, and with selection for Spain’s World Cup squad very much in mind, regular exposure to first team football is a firm requirement. His concern is heightened by the experience of his friend, and fellow product of the Barca ‘cantera’ Giovana del Santos. Signed by Tottenham as he was breaking into the Barcelona first team squad, the Mexican international made only ten appearances during a four season period at White Hart Lane, and was loaned out to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing Santander, before moving to Mallorca in 2012. It’s a cautionary tale.
It’s understood that the player’s preferred option is to have a low buy-out clause written into the contract, allowing him to leave after one season, should he not play sufficient games. With Paul Scholes now permanently absented from the United engine room, leaving Michael Carrick as probably the only true first choice for that berth, a clear gap remains that Thiago Alcantara would nicely fit, but the question is whether Moyes would be prepared to have his ability to select his team compromised by a contractual obligation. Should Ferguson have been asked that sort of question, the answer would surely have been ‘interesting’.
As mentioned above, the further complication for United is that other clubs are also interested in signing the player. Barcelona are keen to secure him to a further contract and Bayern Munich, now under the charge of his former Barca mentor Pep Guardiola are also said to be interested. And then, just to put a cap on it, it’s understood that whilst, at the moment, the fee for the player is a manageable £15million, at the end of this month, that rises to something in the region of £65million. Time therefore is not a quality that Moyes has a lot of.
No-one said that taking up the reins at Old Trafford would be easy, and this could be the first test of David Moyes and his ability to cope with filling the biggest of management shoes.