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Manchester United transfer rumors: Thiago Alcantara

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With the summer signings of Phil Jones and Ashley Young thus far, and the with the imminent signing of David De Gea, it appears that Manchester United will likely turn their attention next to the center of the pitch. In recent days, the media has made claims that manager Sir Alex Ferguson has made inquiries about FC Barcelona's starlet Thiago Alcantara. The 20-year-old central midfielder has just come off an impressive tournament during the U-21 European Championships for Spain - a competition in which the playmaker earned man of the match honors for during his side's victory in the final.

Much has been made by now of United's need for reinforcements in the center of the pitch. The summer gossip, at least in regards to central midfielders, has mainly revolved around Luka Modric, Wesley Sneijder, and Samir Nasri. However, as the summer has progressed, each has seemed less likely to join United for the upcoming season for various reasons. There is a clear need for a creative force in United's central midfield, or what many now refer to as "the next Paul Scholes."

The central figure in this all, and possibly for the fate of multiple clubs, may be Cesc Fabregas. It is no secret that the Spaniard desires a return to Barcelona at some point in the near future. If the current Arsenal captain were to return to the Catalan side, then Barcelona may be more willing to sell Thiago - the youngster would find opportunities to break through to the first team difficult. However, if Arsenal were to hang on to Fabregas, then Barcelona may be more inclined to keep Thiago for central midfield depth and use their money on the likes of a Guiseppe Rossi or Juan Mata. In turn, the Londoners may actually be more willing to part with Nasri, who only has a year left on his contract, if they could retain the services of their skipper for at least one more season.

So what could Thiago provide United? Well, by all accounts, he's terrific technically and he draws comparisons to Xavi Hernandez. His range of passing is excellent, and in the final versus Switzerland in the U-21 European Championships, the playmaker provided this bit of magic from 40 yards out. The youngster is confident, outspoken, and he's able to provide the final killer ball - something that was consistently lacking in United's past season from their central midfield. With Ryan Giggs' recent role in the center, Thiago may be a good understudy until the Welsh legend retires.

Our friends over at Barca Blaugranes have discussed Thiago quite a bit in the past few days - here are a few links to what they had to say in regards to their young player.

* If Thiago is not retained, management is incompetent

* Thiago is better than Cesc Fabregas

* Is Thiago actually as good as Cesc Fabregas?

What do you all think about this possibility? Would this satisfy our need for a central midfielder? Please share your opinion in the comments below.