When Pep Guardiola revealed his interest in signing Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, most people seemed to agree that his appearance in a Bayern Munich shirt would be a mere formality. Guardiola had declared he was the only player he was interested in, his brother was the player's agent, and as his former mentor, the youngster would surely choose to sign for Bayern. In any case, his interest would only be revealed if he was sure a deal could be done. That was that.
Now, however, it appears it may not be so simple. Despite the inclusion of a buy-out clause, the complexity of the deal appears to have been much understated, with Bayern still not having made a move for the player. Today, the Bavarian outfit's sporting director, Matthias Sammer, has come out to state that a deal is not concluded, and that the player's situation is still up in the air.
There remain many compelling reasons for Thiago to choose Manchester United, the overwhelming advantage being that the Red Devils can offer more gametime than pretty much any elite club owing to the state of their midfield. Guardiola stated his plans to withdraw Javi Martinez to accomodate him, but this still doesn't compare to the gaping chasm at the heart of United's team. If playing time is the number one consideration, then United are still the logical choice.
In addition, Guardiola does not have free reign at Bayern. He can ask for a player, but the club will have to deem how much to offer. There is a reluctance at Bayern to include buyout clauses in any deal, something Thiago had demanded from David Moyes, with United also in a better position to offer the best deal, since Thiago would be of such greater value to them than to their German rivals.
To make things even more interesting, a feud appears to be growing with Pep Guardiola and the Barcelona hierarchy after the former Barca man lashed out at his old club during that same press conference. With issues over tax and how the deal is structured - players technically have to buy out their own clause, which costs them tax when the money is distributed into their account by the buying club. In order to avoid this extra cost, the selling club will usually agree to sell for the same price, since none of the extra fee would be seen by them anyway. In this case, however, Barcelona could frustrate Bayern and make it difficult for them.
In short, Guardiola may well feel that it's Thiago or nothing, but it's unlikely that those sentiments are reciprocated by the player. United are still a very attractive option, and it seems this deal isn't quite as tied-up as we'd been led to believe. Bayern are the favourites, but United aren't out of the race just yet.