Two new reports suggest that Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are going to swoop out of the sun and steal Thiago Alcantara from our clutches, so it seems.
Let's deal with Bayern first. That report comes from Marca, and they say the fact that Thiago's waiting for a deal with Bayern is the reason that the deal's been held up. Even as a pessimistic United fan, there are a lot of holes with that claim. We've heard that Barcelona are about to meet with Thiago's representatives and he's told them he wants to leave. Everything we've heard suggests it's Barca holding up the deal, not Thiago waiting, so if this is true it basically contradicts almost everything else we've been told.
Secondly, Bayern Munich's midfield is better than Barcelona's. I think they played each other last year at some point, can't remember what happened exactly, but as I recall Barca got shown up a little bit. It's therefore going to be yet harder for Thiago to break into the first-team there. There's talk of Mario Gotze moving up front and Javi Martinez dropping deeper, but it's hard to see either one of those being the case all season - in any case, he'll still have the formidable Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger to compete with, and I highly doubt Pep will drop the world's best defensive midfielder to centre-back for the privilege of having to field Luiz Gustavo as first-choice.
Lastly, of course, Pep promised precisely not to do this. That's a gentlemen's agreement, of course, so it only means anything if you're dealing with a gentlemen, but we've heard time and time again that Guardiola is supposedly exactly that, so that's another reason to believe this won't happen. Oh, and finally... there's been nothing in the German press about this. Not a peep. Try and remember the last big transfer you heard about where no newspaper in the buying club's home country heard a thing about it until it happened. Exactly.
OK, onto Real, courtesy of El Larguero. This is more serious, because none of the above applies there, but there are nonetheless caveats. Firstly: the only link is that Carlo Ancelotti has supposedly discussed Thiago's name as one of his potential targets with the rest of Real Madrid's board. So, that's a long way from being as advanced as United are, and not even a real indicator of genuine interest.
The second thing is the not inconsiderable fact that he'd be moving from Barcelona to Real Madrid. Remember Luis Figo? The pig's heads, the flaming scooters? Not only does that rumour rely on Thiago having some pretty serious stones to go through with a move like that, it also relies on Barcelona failing in doing absolutely everything they can to stop the move going ahead, which obviously they would. It's a weird time at Barca for Sandro Rosell - and losing Thiago to Real Madrid would be a catastrophe of gigantic proportions.
In short, that's why I'm not too sure either of these are likely to happen. The Real Madrid one seems quite well-sourced and probably has a grain of truth in the fact that there's real interest, but that's about it. As for Bayern... the fact this has all emerged only now suggests that whatever is backing this up is thin to say the least.