• Premier League

United 'very close' to Thiago deal

ESPN staff
July 2, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Press Pass on Thiago

Manchester United sources have stated to ESPN that a deal for Thiago Alcantara is now "very close", as the club feel the situation has taken a positive turn over the past few days.

One Old Trafford official admitted that the process had often been frustrating and likened it to the negotiations for Wesley Sneijder in 2011.

The difference is that there is now a much stronger sense that the move for the Barcelona midfielder will end up successful. There is a tentative hope that they may even be able to announce the transfer at David Moyes' first press conference as United boss.

Spanish newspaper Sport reported on Monday that one of the remaining stumbling blocks was Thiago requesting a similar contract clause to that which he has at Barcelona, whereby he would be allowed to leave for a set fee if he did not make a required number of appearances - it is understood this clause is indeed being sought.

Moyes, meanwhile, has been particularly vocal behind the scenes about pushing the transfer through. Additionally, the most recent soundings from the player's camp have been much more positive than at any point over the previous ten days.

Barcelona, however, are still holding out some hope that they can convince the player to stay. On Tuesday, spokesman Toni Freixa said: "There's no news [regarding Thiago]. He has a contract and didn't say anything, so he's still a Barca player now."

Despite United's new confidence, there is still also an element of trepidation due the fact this is a new regime at Old Trafford and because of the club's recent history of missing out on big targets at similar points in negotiations.

In the past few summers, United thought they had secured deals for Sneijder, Mesut Ozil, David Silva and Karim Benzema only for each move to collapse late on. This time, however, United feel they "couldn't possibly have done more" - from clauses to wages.

Elsewhere, Moyes is understood to now have a much more open attitude to keeping Wayne Rooney, despite Sir Alex Ferguson's apparent keenness to see him leave Old Trafford. The duo are set to meet on Tuesday.

The new United boss does also retain interest in both Benfica's Ezequiel Garay and PSV Eindhoven's Kevin Strootman, although neither deal is as advanced as has been reported elsewhere.

PSV's sporting director Marcel Brands actually insisted on Tuesday that the Dutch club would resolve to keep the midfielder. "We do not want to lose Strootman this summer. He knows that he will stay at PSV for another season," Brands told De Telegraaf.

Should United agree a deal with the player himself, however, it is understood that PSV would not stand in his way. Moyes is also an admirer of Garay and, in a somewhat surprise move, will monitor the club's centre-back situation over the course of his first month in the job.

It is also expected that United will go back in for Leighton Baines, after an opening bid of around £10-12 million was rejected by Everton.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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