There are some in the media saying that terms have been agreed between Manchester United and Barcelona for the transfer of midfielder Thiago Alcantra. However, my Manchester United sources have told me that talks are on-going, but the player is awaiting reassurances from Barcelona that he will be given more playing time in the first team.
In the normal world, that would be a natural assumption that Barcelona would pay lip service and tell the player that he is part of their plans etcetera, but this is the football world and normal things do not happen. Despite his demands, it is unlikely that Barcelona will make such a promise, because they would then have to answer to other, more powerful players about their playing time; they will not fall into that trap. The likelihood is that they will merely tell the player that it is the manager`s job to decide on the team, formation and tactics. Thiago scored an excellent hat trick in the final of the U-21 Championships in Israel, so you would be excused for thinking that it would give him more clout with the Barca hierarchy, but that will not wash; they have a team full of high achievers.
Thiago has a buyout clause of around £15m and United are willing to activate it upon a signal from the player that he wants to move. It really is as simple as that on this occasion and I expect to see some manoeuvrings on this transfer next week.
Wayne Rooney is to meet personally with David Moyes next week to clear up his future at the club. Wild claims about Rooney going to Chelsea or Arsenal in some newspapers is the agitation by certain Chelsea/Arsenal friendly journalists trying to undermine the player`s relationship with the club; it will not work. From my sources, it is clear that Rooney wants to stay at United and the club are preparing a new 5 year deal for the player, which will be his last. David Moyes is not daft enough to let his best player move to their fiercest rivals and he will make the necessary approaches to the Rooney camp next week. I expect there to be a new deal on the table before the start of the new season with reassurances that the player will be utilised in his preferred position at number ten.
Finally, we could not talk about transfers without mentioning Ronaldo. United are playing this very carefully, especially because they are dealing with a particularly slippery character in Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez. Nothing is straightforward, nor can anything be believed when you are dealing with this character, so United are biding their time and chipping away at Ronaldo, with a daily stream of text messages between him and United players. Pérez cannot be seen to lose face in a transfer deal, so it will have to look like Ronaldo has made the move himself. He has already made clear that he will not be renewing his contract, so Pérez has a decision to make. Do a deal now and move on, or see Ronaldo see out the remaining two years of his contract and leave for nothing! United have a £65m deal waiting in the wings and will be willing to pay Ronaldo £250,000 a week. Ronaldo is a narcissist and wants to be loved; he will know from the reception he got in last season`s Champions League match at Old Trafford what the fans feel for him and that could well be the deciding factor. Do not be surprised to see a last minute deal for Ronaldo.