Manchester United are close to signing Barcelona and Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

Manchester United Transfer News - Thiago Alcantara Close To Joining From Barcelona

The 22-year-old midfielder was one of the star performers in the recently concluded U-21 European Championship, which Spain won after beating Italy in the final. Alcantara scored a wonderful hattrick in the final, which helped his nation retain the U-21 title they won back in 2011.

The Spanish international’s future at the club has been up for speculations for a long time. It is believed that Thiago is worried about lack of playing time at the club. He was always earmarked as the man who would eventually replace Xavi at Barcelona, but it seems like he has to wait for few more years in order to accomplish that and earn a regular place in the starting eleven. Lot of big clubs have been monitoring his situation, with the likes of Manchester United and Bayern Munich linked with a move for him.

According to latest reports, Manchester United have moved ahead of their rivals in this race for Thiago’s signature and are expected to complete the signing of the player within this week. The English club is willing to meet the £17 million release clause in his contract, which is now active as Thiago didn’t make the required number of starts for Barcelona last season.

Thiago told the press weeks back that he will decide about his future at Barcelona after the U-21 European Championship.

“Now I am with the National team, and at the right moment I will think about the future. I am waiting to play the last season’s game with Barcelona and then I will concentrate on the European Under 21 championship. I am very happy at Barcelona, because they aloowe me to live an incredible moment of my career, after the tournament we’ll meet and we’ll see. De Gea wants me at Manchester? Every teammate of the national team wants the best for his club. I would also like him to join me at Barcelona.” – The Manchester United target was quoted in press.

English and Spanish media are now reporting that the 22-year-old has decided to move to Manchester United having rejected Barcelona’s offer to retain him. It is believed that Thiago is concerned about his place in the Spanish national team ahead of the upcoming World Cup. He wants regular first team action next season in order to live his World Cup dreams – something which he is sure to receive at United.

If the reigning Premier League champion manages to sign Thiago, it will be the second signing under new manager David Moyes and the first big name to arrive in this new era at the club. He will solve a lot of problems that United had in their midfield, which has lacked creativity at times. Thiago can play both as a deep-lying playmaker and as an attacking midfielder. If David Moyes uses the 4-2-3-1 formation, he can partner Carrick in the pivot or can play behind the striker upfront. He is a technically gifted footballer, with wonderful vision and passing range, although he needs to improve the defensive side of his game, he can also be a goal threat from the midfield.

The good news for the United fans is that Sky bet has slashed the odds on Thiago joining Manchester United to as low as 1/5, after a flurry of bets.