If you've been reading WAGNH for any length of time, you'll no doubt be aware that most fans seem to be of the opinion that the center of our midfield needs reinforcing. We're clearly thin at the position, and while most fans have different preferences as to who they would sign, everyone seems to understand that reinforcing needs to be done.
So what exactly are Chelsea lacking in the midfield? Most would tell you they're missing someone with a fantastic range of passing that can play in a traditional central role. With that in mind, many have been calling for additions like Nuri Sahin, Luka Modric, Joao Moutinho, or Beñat Etxebarria to fill the void. All have been available to varying degrees in recent seasons, and Chelsea have shown interest in several of them.
The Blues have had a different looking transfer policy since Michael Emenalo took over as technical director though, targeting younger players who are generally well short of their peak in an attempt to comply with FFP. He's generally found guys he likes at a very early age, monitored their development for a season or two, and then moved for them before their value skyrockets.
He had clear interest in a target that fit this profile just two summers ago, making serious overtures towards a Barcelona academy product whose contract was nearing it's expiration. In the end, his pursuit of Thiago Alcantara didn't prove successful, as the midfielder extended his deal with the Catalan giants. That deal included a massive buyout of €90 million, a figure that would seem to indicate Thiago wouldn't be going anywhere on the cheap.
Not so fast though, at least according to Marca. If the Spanish paper is to be believed*, the lack of appearances in the ridiculously crowded Barcelona midfield means that buyout has dropped to just €18 million. That's cheaper than Jordan Henderson or Stuart Downing, and about the same as Liverpool paid for Joe Allen last season. Would you value Alcantara more highly than those three? I certainly would, and €18 million would certainly seem a more than reasonable fee for the type of potential that the La Masia graduate has shown.
*It's worth noting here that this report comes from Marca, who are known for being the mouthpiece of Real Madrid. This can be taken in any number of ways, but it's certainly worth noting their affiliation with Barcelona's traditional rivals.
This seems exactly like the sort of move that Michael Emenalo would make, jumping at the chance to grab a youngster on the verge of breaking out. At just 22 years old, he'd certainly have resale value, and he's certainly a player whose wages Chelsea could afford. There should be very few issues with settling in, as one former Barca classmate (Oriol Romeu), and three Spanish National teammates (Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, Cesar Azpilicueta) should help ease any transition to life in London. What's more, Thiago was also eligible to play for Brazil, and we certainly have plenty of samba players hanging around the Cobham training ground.
So what would the new manager think of the move? There's no way to know for sure, but it's hard to think he'd object. Mou has shown a tendency to snap up players on the cheap recently (Nuri Sahin, Sami Khedira, or Mesut Ozil come to mind, despite having other options already available in those roles), and you'd have to think he's very familiar with Alcantara from his three years at Real Madrid. Would Mou give Barca (and the Spanish media) one last poke in the eye** on his way out the door? You'd have to think he'd love the opportunity to do just that.
I haven't seen any sort of link between Chelsea and Thiago of yet, nor do I know if the Marca report is remotely accurate. If it is though, we should be on the phone immediately informing Barcelona that we're planning to meet that buyout. Thiago is young, his skillset fills an obvious void, he'd be a tremendous bargain at just €18 million, and the signing would infuriate Barcelona fans worldwide. All in all, I can't think of a more perfect way to fill a long-term void.