Complete Scouting Guide to Manchester United Target Thiago Alcantara

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2013

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 18:  Thiago Alcantara of Spain during the UEFA European U21 Championships Final match between Spain and Italy at Teddy Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

David Moyes has already completed his first signing as Manchester United manager with the capture of Uruguayan defender Guillermo Varela, but the new boss is far from finished in the transfer market as he looks to make the team his own.

One of the biggest rumours surrounding incoming moves to Old Trafford at present is that of Barcelona's attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who Mirror Football report is available for £15 million this summer and is a major target of United's.

The 22-year-old is a regular in the Barcelona squad in La Liga, but the report indicates that his release clause has been lowered as a result of not playing at least 30 minutes in 60 percent of La Liga games during 2012-13.

So in case you missed his stand-out performances in the recent European under-21 Championships, here's all you need to know on the dynamite youngster.


Who is Thiago Alcantara?

Thiago Alcantara is an attack-minded playmaker for Barcelona who can operate centrally or in a slightly more advanced role through midfield. He featured 27 times in La Liga this season, though almost half of those were as substitute, and claimed two goals and five assists in the process.

The Italian-born midfielder has been capped three times at senior level for Spain and is the captain for their under-21 side too.

Thiago's brother, Rafinha, is also a part of the Barcelona system.

An elegant and composed player on the ball, Thiago has the passing ability and consistency to maintain possession for his team under pressure or find the killer ball to unlock a defence. Never afraid with the ball at his feet, he can take on a man or break forward from deep at pace.

He has goals in his game too, an important asset for both club and country given their emphasis on waiting until the right moment to burst through on goal—and an obvious appeal to any potential suitors too.


Euro Under-21 Performance

At the recently ended European under-21 Championships in Israel, Spain were once more triumphant and, as captain, Thiago Alcantara lifted the trophy after a win over Italy in the final.

He himself was key in the game, scoring a hat trick in the first half en-route to a 4-2 win.

Along with the likes of Isco and Asier Illarramendi, Thiago and his teammates were the stand-out performers for Spain on their road to glory, and the final performance especially will have offered compelling evidence to press ahead with plans to sign the Barcelona player that teams may have had.

As well as his technical and tactical abilities, Thiago showed good leadership and an exemplary work rate while wearing the captain's armband.


Why Do United Want Him?

Manchester United have been linked with a range of attacking central midfielders over the past couple of seasons, with popular opinion being that this is the area which needs most attention in the transfer market.

While United won the Premier League at a bit of a canter last season, they were undone in Europe and will look to improve their projections in that tournament over the coming seasons.

Thiago Alcantara will add a huge amount of quality and plenty of potential to get even better over the next two or three seasons, as he possibly adapts to a new role—whether David Moyes would intend to use him as a central midfielder or a No. 10 is not immediately clear.

At most other clubs in Europe, Thiago would already be a regular in the starting XI, but if he chooses to depart Barcelona this season, he'll be looking to immediately cement a place at a new club. His price tag will almost be guaranteed to increase over the coming seasons, so even if he fails to adapt entirely into a new league, there will be little risk of losing the initial investment.

Thiago is one of the highest-rated young 20-somethings in Europe right now, and at £15 million he would be great business for any attack-minded, possession-based side. United will now hope that he agrees that's them—with Chelsea and Bayern Munich also reported to be interested.


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