Gerard Pique says Barcelona must keep Thiago Alcantara amid interest from Manchester United

The midfielder scored a hat-trick in the European Under-21 Championship final against Italy

Gerard Pique has declared that Barcelona must try and talk Manchester United target Thiago Alcantara into staying at the Catalan club after the midfielder netted a hat-trick in Spain's 4-2 win over Italy in the European Under-21 Championship final.

Alcantara has captained the Spain side throughout the tournament in Israel, helping the team achieve a perfect record of five wins out of five, and was a key member of the side that won the tournament in 2011.

However, his future at the Camp Nou has been cast into doubt.

Alcantara made just 15 starts in La Liga last season, struggling to hold down a place in the first team, where he faces stiff competition from the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

According to reports in Spain, he has already decided to leave Barcelona, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich reportedly the two clubs that have shown the most interest in him.

Either club could seal his signature shortly by paying his 18million-euro buy-out clause before 31 July, after which his transfer fee will rise.

Speaking to radio programme Al Primer Toque on Onda Cero, Barca centre-back Pique urged his club to hold on to the 22-year-old, who he believes could become as important to the team in the future as Xavi and Iniesta.

"There is a possibility that he could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona," said Pique.

"Players in his position like Xavi were patient and they ended up defining an era."

For Pique, the exploits of Alcantara and the under-21s shows that the future of Spanish football is in safe hands.

"When you watch them and see how superior they have been in this tournament you realise that the future is very positive," he said.

The defender also admitted it was likely that the club would sign at least one defender over the summer, but reaffirmed his faith in his team-mate and usual centre-back partner Carles Puyol, who is about to undergo a third operation on his right knee in the last 13 months.

Strengthening in defence has become a priority for Barcelona ever since they were knocked out of Bayern Munich 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals of last season's Champions League, with Pique having to play alongside the inexperienced Marc Bartra due to the absence of Puyol and Javier Mascherano.

"I understand why Barcelona want to strengthen in the centre-back position because last season we suffered a lot from injuries," said Pique.

"All the names that have been linked with the club are very good players and we will welcome any new arrival. But I think we should remember we still have Puyol and if he starts to get fit again he will still be among the top five centre-backs in the world."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific