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FLASHBACK: When Bolton Almost Signed Thiago Alcantara

Bet he's gutted that this deal never came to fruition

Alexander Hassenstein

Thiago Alcântara do Nascimento (born 11 April 1991), better known as Thiago, is a world-renowned Spanish international midfielder, currently plying his trade for Bundesliga champions FC Bayern Munich.

Born in Italy to Brazilian parents, Thiago joined Barcelona aged 14. After representing Spain at under-19 and under-21 levels, he made his full international debut in 2011. He moved to Germany in 2013.

All fairly straight forward.

However, what you may not know about Thiago, is that in 2011 he nearly joined Bolton Wanderers.

The 2011-12 season was Bolton Wanderers's thirteenth season in the Premier League, and their eleventh consecutive season in the top-flight of English football.  At the end of the season, we finished 18th, and suffered relegation to the Championship, ending our longest run in the top flight for forty eight years.

The club enjoyed a wealth of midfield options, with American midfielder Stuart Holden as the hub, with Mark Davies, Lee Chung Yong and super Darren Pratley all competing for positions. However, the club's under-fire manager, Owen Coyle felt that reinforcements were required. Instead of just buying someone from Burnley, as he liked to do, he aimed high, and went in for Thiago.

The player San Pietro Vernotico, Italy, when his father, Mazinho, was playing for nearby Lecce. He started at the lower levels of Flamengo in Brazil, and, at the age of five, moved to Spain with his father, and started playing with Galician team Ureca in Nigrán. In 2001, he played with Kelme CF when his father played for Elche CF. Thiago returned to Flamengo aged 10 and, in 2005, once again moved back to Spain, signing with Barcelona, where his cousin Patrick was also playing.

He made his debut in 2009, coincidentally replacing ex-Bolton Wanderers man Eidur Gudjohnsen against RCD Mallorca. On 20 February 2010, after coming on as a substitute for Yaya Toure, he scored his first goal for the club in a win against Racing Santander. His appearances in the first team became sporadic, although he made steady progress, ending the following season with 17 games, three goals, and three assists, although they don't matter.

Barcelona enjoyed a wealth of midfield options, with Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Yaya Toure et al all competing for spot in the centre of the park. The Spanish club was also attempting to bring back Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal, and so were believed to be amenable to lending out Thiago.

Coyle, who earned positive reviews in the game for his handling of young loanees Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge targeted Thiago. The proposed deal was for Thiago to join Wanderers on a three year contract at a fee of £4m. The catch was that at any time during those years, Barcelona could re-sign the player from Bolton for the same fee. It was, effectively, a three year loan deal.

Wanderers' chase for the Barcelona playmaker even got as far as chairman Phil Gartside flying to Spain for talks. However, despite the club's belief at the time that the deal was as good as done, the player decided to fight for his place in the Barcelona squad.

The rest is history.

Bolton ended up relegated, and Thiago would find first team football in Germany, following former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to Munich where he won five trophies in his first season.

I bet he sits back every day, regretting his decision not to sign for Bolton. Or maybe not.

Career Statistics

Club

Season

League

Cup

Europe

Other

Total

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Barcelona B

2007-08

5

0

-

5

0

2008-09

25

0

-

25

0

2009-10

18

3

-

18

3

2010-11

11

0

-

11

0

Total

59

3

-

59

3

Barcelona

2008-09

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

2009-10

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

2010-11

12

2

3

1

1

0

1

0

17

3

2011-12

27

2

8

2

7

0

3

0

45

4

2012-13

27

2

7

1

2

0

0

0

36

3

Total

68

7

19

4

10

0

4

0

101

11

Bayern Munich

2013-14

16

2

2

0

4

0

3

1

25

3

Total

16

2

2

0

4

0

3

1

25

3

Career totals

143

12

21

4

14

0

7

1

185

17