Back on December 30, before Pep Guardiola was even confirmed to be City’s next manager, Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo claimed to have information of Pep’s three main targets for his new project. The names? İlkay Gündoğan (Borussia Dortmund), Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao) and Thiago Alcântara (Bayern Munich).
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, Gündoğan and Laporte have been linked so persistently that it almost seems a question of when, rather than if, they will join Manchester City. However, Thiago always seemed a more fanciful target, with Bayern rarely willing to sell their stars. Manchester United reportedly offered £88 million for Bayern talisman Thomas Müller last summer, but the German champions weren’t interested.
A new report today has brought the Thiago link back to life, though. Kicker is widely considered to be the most reliable source in Germany for football news and have linked 25-year-old Thiago with a move to Manchester today.
Kicker say ‘there is evidence’ that Thiago will follow his mentor Pep Guardiola to Manchester and that Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanić has already been lined up to replace him. Incoming Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti is said to be a big fan of Pjanić, who has the perfect skill set to replace Spain international Thiago, should he leave. The newspaper doesn’t elaborate on what the ‘evidence’ is that Thiago could join City, but it’s certainly a source worth taking seriously.
The report says Bayern could expect to pay around €40 million (£31 million) for Pjanić, possibly the sort of figure City would have to offer to convince Munich to part with Thiago. While Kicker is extremely reliable, Thiago himself has said quite clearly in recent months that he will not be leaving Munich. Things can change quickly in football, though, and having already followed Guardiola from Barcelona to Munich, Thiago may be tempted to follow Pep to the Premier League.