Thiago Alcantara Should Consider National Team Future Before Making Summer Move

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2013

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 18:  Thiago Alcantara of Spain celebrates his team's second goal during the UEFA European U21 Championship final match between Italy and Spain at Teddy Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

If Thiago Alcantara is moving to Manchester United to strengthen his place with the Spain national team, he should think twice.

The move has long been rumored, and it may not be much longer until the transfer is finalized. The Daily Mail's Chris Wheeler reported Barcelona is trying to do whatever it can to convince the 22-year-old to stay:

Barcelona will hold last-ditch talks with Thiago Alcantara to try and persuade the Spain midfielder to turn down a move to Manchester United.

The Premier League champions have agreed personal terms of £5.5million a year with Thiago and his father, former Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho, and are confident of wrapping up a £17m transfer.

Barca still hope to persuade the 22-year-old that he will be a ‘leader’ at the club for years to come but he remains unconvinced after struggling to secure a first-team place.

If Thiago is moving simply to get more first-team football, that's fine. If he wants to get a new contract, he wouldn't be the first. It's hard to hold that against him too much, even though it hasn't been that long since he signed an extension. If Thiago thinks he's helping to work his way into the Spain XI by going to Old Trafford, he's crazy.

Thiago's problem at Barcelona is that he's stuck behind Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas. In the Spain national team, he'll continue to be stuck behind Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas. Then, you throw in the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata, Javi Martinez, Xabi Alonso, etc. Thiago is unlikely to sniff the national team any time soon.

Staying at Barcelona can only help his chances, though. By moving to Manchester United, Thiago will have to learn a new offensive system, which is completely different than what he's used to at Barca. It won't be the quick passing, tiki-taka style that Barcelona use. It will likely be much more direct.

It's going to take some time for him to bed into United and get used to the style of the Premier League.

Sure, there are plenty of Spanish national team players who ply their trade abroad. Moving to United won't exclude Thiago from selection. But by staying at Barcelona, Thiago is ensuring that he's playing every week in Spain and playing in an attack very similar to what the national team uses as well.

That's only going to look better to whomever the national team coach is.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Manchester United look good right now, but Thiago might not get it much better than he's got it at Barcelona.

Sure, he didn't feature in the first team each and every week. It's hard to do that when Barcelona's midfield is so full of talented players. You also have to consider the time that Tito Vilanova had to spend away from the club as a result of his cancer treatment. Jordi Roura looked less than assured when he had to step in as manager. Because of his inexperience, he was less likely to rely on younger players like Thiago to help him win.

Next season should be a return to normalcy for Barcelona. Along with that normalcy should come more games for Thiago.

There's a clear line of succession in place at Barcelona when it comes to the midfield. Xavi will be succeeded by Iniesta, who will be succeeded Fabregas, who will be succeeded by Thiago. That's largely why Fabregas was bought. He was the link in the chain between Iniesta and Thiago.

Thiago's time in the Barcelona XI, much like the Spain XI, will come if he stays at the club. He just has to be patient.