The Thiago Silva saga took an unexpected twist today as reports surfaced in L’Équipe that nouveau-riche side Paris Saint-Germain are set to announce the signing of the Brazilian, possibly as early as Tuesday. The original report was light on details (at least on the website), but throughout the day the story has developed to the extent that L’Équipe published an additional article with quotes from Leonardo who happens to be Director of Football at the French club.
"On va voir pour Thiago... Mais ce n'est pas facile !"
Or in English:
"We are going to see Thiago...But it will not be easy!"
These quotes have been picked up by your usual suspects on the football rumours front, with Soccerway relaying the news, and Goal.com supposedly adding to it with quotes from "a source close to the Italian club". I don’t know the reliability of the rumours, but if Leonardo has commented on it, there must be at least interest from the French side of things. The fee mentioned in L’Équipe is "€40-50 million", which would seemingly price Barcelona out of things.
However, it all seems a little convenient for my liking. Over the past few weeks – and indeed the past few months – many AC Milan officials have talked to the media about Thiago Silva and repeatedly they have said he is not for sale, unless someone offers crazy money. Then, as if by magic, someone does come in and offers crazy money. The €50 million fee quoted by L’Équipe would not only be a world record for a defender, but would rank as the seventh highest fee of all-time for any player. With that sort of money Barcelona bought Gerard Piqué, Eric Abidal and Dani Alves – so it’s only natural to assume that in our current financial state we will be all but priced out of the market.
On the other hand, this assumes that the rumours are true, and that Thiago Silva wants to move to France. Sure, PSG have a "project" which presumably ends with them challenging for the UEFA Champions League, but does that really outweigh the other factors involved? First off, Ligue Un is competitive, but does not boast the same draw as that of La Liga, or even Serie A. Secondly, whatever the goal is for this project, one can only assume that Barcelona will still be a more attractive destination both in terms of brand awareness and international competitiveness. At 27, Thiago Silva is far from old, but he isn’t getting any younger either. What he will need to assess is whether this project will yield the desired results before he starts to decline. I realise that I am biased, but surely Barcelona is a better destination with regards to personal success?
While it is a long-shot, there is a possibility that the story lacks any real substance and is actually a plant by Milan in a bid to force Barcelona’s hand. Perhaps more realistically the interest is indeed genuine, and Barcelona will have three options. The first option is that they don’t really want Thiago Silva and therefore do nothing. It isn’t an option as such, but it’s certainly a possibility. The second option is that they jump into action with a bid of their own. Now, I’m not suggesting that we offer as much as PSG, simply because that’s foolish and unrealistic given the FFP rules, but a team like Barcelona can afford to bid less and rely on their "allure" to do the rest. Should Barcelona make a bid, then Thiago Silva will simply have two choices of club and at that stage, transfer fee ceases to really become a factor.
The third option is that the Blaugrana sit back and hope that either the interest fades over time, or that Silva rejects a move to France, preferably stating along the way that he would only consider a move to Cataluña. Whatever the case, we are in for an interesting few days.