Manchester United are closing in on their first major signing under new manager David Moyes, with reports that the club is set to open talks over personal terms for Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The 22-year-old has a much-publicized clause in his contract allowing him to leave for just €18 million (£15.4m) until the end of July, having failed to make a requisite number of appearances last season. Both United and Moyes, during his time at Everton, are thought to have a long-standing interest in the player, who this week gave a further demonstration of his abilities with a hat-trick in the final of the European Under-21 Championship.
Barcelona have understandably trying to persuade Thiago that his future lies at the Camp Nou, but the Daily Telegraph has now joined Barcelona-based publication Sport in claiming that the son of former Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho has decided that he will be better served by a move. Thiago, who has won three caps for the Spain senior side, is determined to be a prominent member of the squad for next years’ World Cup.
And Spanish sports daily AS reports that United have made contact with Thiago’s representatives to discuss personal terms, with the club apparently prepared to put the player on the same salary as Barcelona stars Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Moyes is also set to promise Thiago that he will be an integral member of the Scotsman’s team at Old Trafford.
United are not the only club to hold an interest in Thiago, however. Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is believed to have been keen to reunite with the player, while ESPN reported on Thursday that Chelsea had joined the hunt. But ESPN also believes that United are front runners, with club sources disclosing that they are “quietly confident” of completing a deal.
Thiago now appears to be Manchester United’s top midfield target, especially with Juventus continuing to insist that Claudio Marchisio will not be going anywhere this summer. United have long been linked with the Italy international and he previously appeared to suggest that his future would only be decided after the Confederations Cup. But the Italian champions state that there is no issue to be discussed.
"Marchisio? There is no meeting; there is no problem with him," director general Beppe Marotte said, according to Sky Sports. "Juventus have never thought about putting him on the market, he is an important player and we will try to keep him with us."
Meanwhile, it is claimed by the Sun that the man that replaced Moyes at Everton fears losing defender Phil Jagielka to United. While the England international was a stalwart for Moyes at Goodison Park, it is difficult to envisage the 30-year-old being seen as capable of improving on United’s current options in central defense.
Moyes will also have to make a decision about the final signing under his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson, Wilfried Zaha. The 20-year-old winger was signed in January but then loaned back Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season. But, with Palace having gained promotion to the Premier League, there has been talk that he could again be loaned out. Their manager Ian Holloway has revealed that he would welcome such a move, but that the decision rests with United.
"It's another option, clearly that's up to Manchester United,” he told Sky Sports. “He's their player now. Will we be asking? We'll probably ask in passing but it's really down to them. Would we love to see Wilfried back? Of course we would but he's got a career at Manchester United and, after a few training sessions up there, I'm not sure they'll be willing to let him out on loan."