When former Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola uttered the famous phrase, “Thiago oder nix,” the eccentric manager set the tone for long-lasting love affair between Bayern Munich fans and Spanish midfield maestro Thiago Alcantara.
Simply put, from the time he arrived in Munich through now, Thiago has been a fantastic player on the pitch and a model citizen off of it. He is exactly the type of player you want your kids to watch and the kind of athlete you can throw your full support behind without the fear of being let down.
The 29-year-old’s delay in signing a potential contract extension — which was thought to be a done deal last month — has now left some of the Bayern Munich faithful feeling confused. Just think, though: if you are puzzled as to why the midfielder is hesitant to re-up with a club that has a legitimate chance to compete for Champions League titles for the foreseeable future, imagine how much internal strife the player is dealing with.
Will he extend his deal or could he leave this year? Moreover, could Bayern Munich keep him through the end of next season and let him walk away on a free transfer? Right now, it seems as if not even Thiago himself knows.
While stories are flying in the German media regarding his status, Thiago has allegedly kept his communication limited to the locker room. Publicly, he has kept silent. Without question, he has a good reason for this approach. Thiago has to make a monumental decision regarding his future and is clearly torn on what is best.
What’s next for Bayern Munich?
Some think that Bayern Munich is finally poised to take the next step into a post-Thiago world with its future double-pivot of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. The duo has certainly proven that they are at least ready to take on the assignment. Other reports indicate that Bayern Munich is poised to use the revenue generated from a sale of Thiago to fund a bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s midfield ace Kai Havertz.
Sure, Hansi Flick still wants to retain Thiago — what coach wouldn’t? But the highly successful skipper has already experienced the Rolling Stones-treatment of not always getting what he wants. Bayern Munich passed on a chance to bring in Timo Werner for Flick before the striker opted to sign with Chelsea.
Whatever the end result is, there should not be any ire directed at Bayern Munich. There is no fault or blame that should be placed on the club: Bayern has offered financial and emotional support in allowing the player to ponder his future without any reported pressure. This comes down to what Thiago wants for his family and his future.
This whole situation appears to be out of Bayern Munich’s hands and frankly, that is the way it should be. The club has offered him what is surely a fair deal, but if Thiago is skeptical of his future role, or if he wants to move his family to England or Spain, the decision is solely his to make.
This is not an instance like Robert Lewandowski’s Pini Zahavi-induced flirtation with Real Madrid, which transformed into a German soap opera that grated on the Bayern Munich fanbase for months. Thiago has not exhibited any uncharacteristic diva-like behavior or asked for preferential treatment. The man just wants time to figure things out. As uncomfortable as that might make some fans, it is really the only way forward.
Whether or not he decides to stay with Bayern Munich, the decision will likely have less to do with football and almost everything to do with his family’s future. Make no mistake, this is Thiago’s last big contract and potentially the last stop for his storied career. The extra time he is taking to finalize a decision is what is best for everyone involved — except the fans.
And in this case, we fans should take a step back and relax. If you’re like me, most of us can’t decide which beer to buy or what to order for dinner without at least as much consternation as Thiago is experiencing during this process.
Unlike many stories in sports, there is no one to blame in this one. This situation is a result of a player’s contractual life cycle. So do yourself a favor and enjoy what could be the final days of seeing Thiago in Bayern red. At the very least, you’ll be thinking about what was and what is, while delaying those thoughts about what could have been.