Liverpool and Manchester United have both been heavily linked to Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who is out of contract in 2021.
Thiago Alcantara has “obviously” agreed a contract with Liverpool or Manchester United or perhaps even both clubs, suspects former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness. The Spain international is the subject of interest from both Premier League rivals and wants to leave Bayern in search of a new challenge.
Thiago, 29, is only under contract at Bayern until 2021 but the Bundesliga champions are holding firm in their valuation of the midfielder.
Bayern will not let Thiago depart Bavaria for anything less than £27million despite knowing that they could lose him for free in a year’s time.
After seven years with the club, the former Barcelona star is believed to want to embark on a new adventure with a stint in the Premier League of appeal.
Liverpool are at the front of the pack for Thiago with the idea of working with Jurgen Klopp reportedly an attractive one to the player.
The Premier League champions however are short on cash and will have to sell players in order to raise funds for a move, with Gini Wijnaldum having been heavily linked with Barcelona.
The Dutchman has however held encouraging talks with Klopp and would prefer to extend his contract, which runs out at Anfield in less than 12 months.
While United have also been tipped to launch a move for Thiago, who was a serious transfer target for the Red Devils back in 2013 before he joined Bayern, then managed by Pep Guardiola.
Despite signing Donny van de Beek and also having Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic among their prominent midfield options, a world-class talent like Thiago would be welcomed at Old Trafford as they look to launch a serious attempt at winning the league.
And Hoeness, who spent 49 years at Bayern before leaving his post as president last year, suspects that Thiago may well have agreed terms with both Liverpool and United because he rejected the opportunity to extend his stay in Germany.
Speaking to Sport1, Hoeness said: “It is a difficult situation. A while ago we agreed on a new four-year contract. Some days later he said: ‘I’m looking for a new challenge.’ Which is totally okay.
“I think he obviously has an agreement with Liverpool or Manchester United or both of them. Now both clubs are bluffing, and no one has contacted Bayern Munich officially.
“From my point of view, that has no style. They’re trying to blackmail us, by waiting until the last week, when they’re going to make a cheap offer.
“In that case FC Bayern have to ask themselves the question: do they want to go along with that or do they tell the player that he has to stay.
“It’s going to be a hot three weeks until [the transfer window closes on] October 5.”
Hoeness added that Bayern do not necessarily need a direct replacement for Thiago if he does leave the Allianz Arena this summer because the club are well-stocked in midfield.
And that could bode well for Liverpool or United’s hopes of prising the midfielder away from Bundesliga champions Bayern at the very end of the window.
With both clubs finding it difficult to offload fringe players to raise money, they will hope to do a deal for as low as possible.
If a deal cannot be struck, clubs all around Europe will be lining up to try and agree a pre-contract deal with Thiago in January that would allow him to join for free six months later in the summer window.
That could be the ideal scenario for Liverpool if they fail to agree a new contract with Wijnaldum, given it would not cost them a transfer fee to replace him with Thiago.
While if United see Thiago as an option for them as a deep-lying playmaker in the No 6 role, their first-choice defensive midfielder Matic turns 33 next August and is reaching the twilight of his career – though he recently signed a new three-year deal to keep him at the club until 2023.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano said of the situation on Twitter: “#Thiago deal. This is exactly how Bayern feel [Hoeness’ comments].
“Man Utd spoke with his agents, Liverpool still feeling favourite to sign Thiago because of Klopp pushing… but there’s no official bid yet – waiting for last transfers days to get a lower fee than €30m price tag. #LFC #MUFC.”
Meanwhile Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, when asked about links to Thiago on Friday, said: “If I would invent now a word that would end speculation I think I could become really rich.
“I cannot end speculation as long as the transfer window is open, so that’s all I can say about that.
“Did I mention that Thiago Alcantara is a really good player long ago? It’s nice that we are linked with him but that’s pretty much all really, it’s because he’s a good player, Liverpool’s a big club, so that’s nice.
“But apart from that, really nothing to say about it. Maybe good for you I cannot end the speculation!”