Manchester United are rumored to be close in its bid to land standout midfielder Thiago Alcantara in a transfer from La Liga's Barcelona. New manager David Moyes must acquire him to go further in ensuring immediate success and to bolster the thin Red Devils midfield.
Multiple organizational sources have told ESPN that negotiations involving Alcantara have taken a turn for the better in the past several days, according to a report by the network's Miguel Delaney.
It's a new era in Old Trafford under Moyes, who succeeds the retired legend Sir Alex Ferguson and is seeking to continue the momentum generated by last year's English Premier League trophy.
To do so, though, the Red Devils must start by rebuilding the thinnest position on the roster. The retirement of Paul Scholes takes away an invaluable veteran mentor on that line, so Moyes must acquire top-notch talent to absorb that inevitable blow.
As phenomenal of a passer as Scholes has been, Alcantara isn't much of a drop-off in that regard, and that's crucial to United's sustained excellence. According to WhoScored's Ben McAleer, Scholes completed 92.4 percent of passes in EPL play, while Alcantara connected at a 91.8 percent clip.
United has maintained its powerhouse status in world football despite some shortcomings in the transfer market in recent years, but the presence and stability of Ferguson was a big reason for that.
Now that the Red Devils have entered a period of relative uncertainty and two of the club's longtime cornerstone are no longer in the fold, it becomes all the more important to maintain the momentum and winning tradition. Alcantara can be a driving force for that.
Moyes' first press conference as manager is slated for Friday, and there is some hope that the acquisition of Alcantara could be announced that day, per Delaney's report.
That would be quite the fashion to kick off Moyes' United tenure, but it's going to take some work over the next couple of days to make that a feasible reality.
One of the stipulations being pushed by Alcantara is a specific clause in his contract, which is similar to the one he had with Barcelona, according to Sport—a Spanish newspaper cited in the ESPN report.
The clause would allow the 22-year-old phenom to leave Old Trafford for a set fee if he didn't make enough appearances.
That shouldn't be too much of a hangup, though, because Alcantara figures to be plugged into the starting XI right away. Between Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, there hasn't been quite enough room for Alcantara to showcase his immense ability on the pitch at Camp Nou.
A fresh atmosphere with the Red Devils should give Alcantara a positive jolt. In the bigger picture, his signing would suggest that Moyes can deliver the goods in the transfer market, and it would boost the beginning of his managerial reign.