Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara is reported to be considering a summer switch to Premier League champions Manchester United.
The Spain Under-21 captain could move to Old Trafford for £17m due to a release clause in his contract. Barcelona have tried to persuade the 22-year-old to remain at the Nou Camp, but a lack of first-team appearances last season has triggered both his desire to play regular football and the appearance-based clause.
With Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas occupying the midfield for much of the year, Thiago – seen as one of the rising stars of Spanish football – is determined to play more regularly than he is currently afforded by coach Tito Vilanova.
United’s new boss David Moyes is a fan of the Barca player, and the club’s chief scout Martin Ferguson gave his recommendation that they should pursue the services of the youngster.
Barcelona have assured Thiago, whose father is World Cup winner Mazinho, that he is a future leader of the team, and they will be determined to avoid another Fabregas-esque situation.
Fabregas left Barcelona for Arsenal as a 16-year-old academy player, but soon made his name as one of the world’s best midfielders.
When Barcelona wanted him back, they had to part with around £30m to see the Arsenal captain return to his childhood club – a situation they would like to avoid with Thiago.
United have also been linked with making a move for Fabregas, though this was later dismissed by the player himself. But it seems they have turned their attentions firmly towards his fellow midfielder, who led his Under-21 side to World Championship glory this month in Israel scoring a hat-trick in Tuesday's final against Italy.
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