Speculation about a potential move to Old Trafford for Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara has been further fuelled by his Spain Under-21 teammate David de Gea. The Manchester United appears to have written “See you in Manchester” on the match ball that Thiago earned after scoring a hat-trick in the European Under-21 Championship final on Tuesday. Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo is in no doubt that De Gea is the author, although what is not known is whether it was a playful joke or something altogether more telling.
The fine treble that led to Spain’s 4-2 win over Italy would ordinarily have ramped up his valuation, but a clause in his contract means that he can leave for just €18 million (£15.4m) until the end of July. It seems implausible that no club will test the 22-year-old’s desire to remain at Barcelona with what would be a bargain bid. Thiago has previously stated that he would sit down and decide his future after the Under-21 tournament.
Another Barcelona-based newspaper, Sport, believes that the player will seek a move in order to get more playing time. His options are said to be between a move to Manchester United or reuniting with his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. One man that is eager for Thiago to stay at the Camp Nou is his current teammate and former United defender Gerard Pique.
“There is a possibility that he could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona,” he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. "Players in his position like Xavi were patient and they ended up defining an era.”
The Daily Mail claims that Thiago is being targeted by new Manchester United manager David Moyes should he miss out in the signing of fellow Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas. There has been strong speculation suggesting that the former Arsenal captain is the marquee signing desired at Old Trafford to excite fans following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, Fabregas has continued to insist that he has no desire to leave the Camp Nou and has received no contact about a move.
It appears that United can forget about any thoughts they might have had of signing Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan. The midfielder, who was so impressive as Dortmund reached the final of the Champions League, has been linked to several clubs, including the Premier League champions. But he has confirmed that he will stay put for next season, although left the door open for a future move.
“I am very, very happy here,” he said, according to ESPN. “We have developed a lot, and I know that it will continue and will even get better. I will definitely play for BVB next season. We will see how it will continue after that.”
A player perennially linked with United is back in the news after Nicolas Gaitan’s agent refused to deny reported interest in the Benfica midfielder. The Argentina international was said to be on the verge of a transfer to United last summer but a move never materialized. He has since gone onto play a role in his Portuguese side reaching the final of the Europa League before suffering defeat to Chelsea last season.
“For now, there is no formal offer," Jose Iribarren said, according to Sky Sports. "He wants to continue at Benfica next season. We know the rumors have been appearing in the newspapers but I cannot confirm that there is particular interest from one club. To repeat, Nico Gaitan is calm and happy at Benfica."