Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola says he will battle Manchester United for Barcelona midfielder Thiago

Pep Guardiola reveals Thiago interest

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Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara is his No. 1 target, with the European champions set to hijack Manchester United’s bid for the Spaniard.

Thiago, 22, has been tipped to leave the Catalans this summer and United had appeared to be leading the race for his signature.

But the Spain Under-21 star, who starred in his country’s triumph at June’s European Championship, could instead be set for a reunion with Guardiola.

The new Bayern coach gave Thiago his senior debut at Camp Nou in 2009 and believes his former charge could further enhance Bayern’s already star-studded midfield, which includes the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze, Javi Martinez and Franck Ribery.

“I want Thiago Alcantara,” Guardiola told a press conference on Thursday. “I have told [chief executive] Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and [sporting director] Matthias Sammer that I want that player. I don’t know what will happen next. We will have to wait and see.

“It is either Thiago or no-one. I know him very, very well. He is a super, super player. He can play three, four, five positions.”

Guardiola said he felt Neymar’s arrival at Barcelona will not help Thiago’s chances of featuring regularly for the Spanish champions, adding: “No player wants to leave Barcelona. That only happens when a player feels he will not play too much in the upcoming season.

“With Neymar, a big player has joined Barcelona. Thiago wants to play and at Barcelona his chances would be worse.”

Should Thiago arrive, Martinez could be moved back to the centre-back position, a move Guardiola has made before when playing Javier Mascherano in defence for Barca.

“I know he can also play at centre-back,” Guaardiola said. “Bastian can play in defence or in offence. I am delighted to have such a great team. Shaqiri can also play on the left or in the middle or as left back. Mandzukic can also play in defence. He is tall, strong and is good in the air. I have a lot of options.”

Meanwhile, Rummenigge has confirmed Guardiola had wanted to bring Neymar to the German treble winners – before opting for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gotze instead.

“We had a clear vision of what kind of player we wanted to buy,” Rummenigge told Sport Bild. “We discussed that matter with Pep and, really, there were only two players of that quality of whom we knew signing them was possible: Neymar and Mario Gotze.

“We then told Guardiola about our experiences with players coming directly from South America.”

Rummenigge explained that the weather on the day of the talks had been “a catastrophe”. He said: “I told Pep to look out of the window. He asked: ‘Why’s that?’ And I answered: ‘Imagine a Brazilian departing from home with temperatures of 30 degrees, and then he arrives here with temperatures six below zero’.”

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