Manchester United look set to miss out on one of their major summer transfer targets, with Thiago Alcantara on the verge of joining Bayern Munich. The Barcelona midfielder, who has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for €18 million (£15.5m) until the end of July, has been strongly pursued by United with personal terms believed to have been agreed. However, the lure of linking up with Pep Guardiola, who managed him at Barcelona, as well as when he was a youngster in the Barcelona B team, appears to have won the day.
Spanish outlet Cadena Cope first reported on a possible deal between the European champions and Thiago late on Wednesday and Guardiola has since confirmed the intensity of his interest in the 22-year-old.
“I want Thiago Alcantara," he said, according to Sky Sports. "I have asked. I don't know what will happen. I don't think that will be a problem. I spoke to club about my concept and told them why I want Thiago Alcantara.
"Thiago is the only player I want, that's what I told them. It will be him or no one. We have many players, but we need the special [quality] that Thiago Alcantara brings. The club will decide. I told them my opinion. Nobody will leave Barcelona, unless they feel they won't play much. He wants to play. That's why I proposed him to the club."
Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport has subsequently reported that a deal has been reached between Bayern and Barcelona. If true, the news will come as a major blow to new Manchester United manager David Moyes, who is determined to bolster his new squad’s midfield and had identified Thiago as a priority signing.
Also believed to be on Moyes’s agenda, as he has been for United for some time, is Kevin Strootman. Despite United’s long-standing interest, the PSV Eindhoven midfielder was thought to be close to a move to Italian side Roma. Strootman has revealed that several clubs are interested but suggested that none were in the world’s top six. PSV, though, have said that Roma are the only club to an express an interest and insisted that it will take a massive offer for them to consider parting with the Netherlands international.
"Roma have contacted us to tell us that they are interested in Kevin Strootman," technical director Marcel Brands told Fox Sports. "We have told Roma that Strootman is not for sale, and only an important offer could convince us otherwise. In our opinion, Roma is the only club to be interested in Strootman, but they have made no offer."
Another major target also looks unlikely to be secured, with Real Madrid confident of tying Cristiano Ronaldo down to a new contract to prevent him returning to Old Trafford. Even if a new deal is not signed this summer, the Portugal star seems likely to elect to run his contract down and improve his bargaining power over his next destination.
Furthering speculation over Ronaldo is the Daily Star, which emerges with a story that Manchester City will “hijack” their neighbors attempts to sign the 28-year-old. Even if there is weight behind the claim, Ronaldo has previously all-but ruled out a move to United’s rivals because of his close ties to Old Trafford.
More surprising speculation has emerged on Thursday, with the Daily Mirror claiming that Manchester United have made a late move for Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegrin has stated his desire for a transfer this summer and has been strongly linked with Italian champions Juventus as well as Arsenal. Yet, with those two clubs’ interest believed to have waned of late, due to Fiorentina’s €30 million (£25.9m) asking price, Manchester City are now thought to be at the head of the queue.
IBTimes understands that Jovetic’s future will be decided imminently, while the Mirror reports that United are set to miss out on the 23-year-old. Jovetic’s agent is believed to have held talks with City sporting director Txiki Begiristain after Fiorentina gave permission.