Thiago Alcantara is close to joining Manchester United after his father met with the Barclays Premier League champions, according to reports.

Barcelona midfielder Thiago scored a hat-trick for Spain in their Under-21 European Championship final triumph against Italy on Tuesday and was scouted by former Reds manager Sir Alex Ferguson's brother, Martin.

Thiago's contract includes a £15 million buy-out clause until the end of August, temporarily reduced from Barça's £77m valuation.

El Mundo Deportivo claim the 22-year-old's father - Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho - has discussed a transfer with United even though Barcelona want to keep the Italian-born attacker.

Although Barça intend to make Thiago a first-teamer, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets remain immovable objects in the Blaugrana midfield.

Pep Guardiola, who will take over the reins at Bayern Munich imminently, is also monitoring the situation at Camp Nou regarding Thiago's future.

United's interest in Thiago intensified when it was noticed his hat-trick ball against Italy featured the message "See you in Manchester" - possibly a tongue-in-cheek remark by United goalkeeper David de Gea.

thiago alcantara

International (and club?) teammates


Thiago and De Gea were part of Spain's Under-21 Euro 2011-winning squad and evidently enjoy a good rapport. Thiago congratulated his compatriot on a save he made from him during United and Barcelona's pre-season friendly in Maryland two years ago, before smashing an unstoppable shot past him in Barça's 2-1 defeat.

De Gea said: "Thiago to Man United? Hopefully I can have a Spanish teammate. Every United player would want him to join."

"We've been joking about Thiago joining, but Barça know they have a great player and I don't think they'll let him go."

Having displayed leadership qualities as Spain's captain in Israel, United boss David Moyes will also be encouraged by Thiago's excellent English, which limits any issues over him settling in Manchester.