bwin has installed Manchester United as the odds-on favourites to sign Barcelona wonderkid Thiago Alcantara now the Red Devils appear to have stolen a march on Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich in the race to snatch the forward from under the noses of the Catalans.
Thiago is one of the hottest properties in European football after captaining Spain Under-21s to European Championship success in Israel this summer, where he scored a hat-trick in the final, a 4-2 win over Italy.
But despite this, Barcelona are powerless to stop Thiago leaving for another club as the attacking midfielder has a release clause in his contract, believed to be around £17 million, which means he is free to leave the Camp Nou for that figure should any side bid that amount.
Barcelona are keen for the 22 year-old to stay, with Xavi, for whom Thiago is seen as the long-term replacement, one of many players to voice their preference for the youngster to remain in Cataluña.
“I’d advise Thiago to stay patient because he’s a player who is bound to be a success at Barça,” Xavi said.
“I think he is an extraordinary player. Thiago is not just a player for the future, but he is someone who can make an impact right now.”
But despite that, it appears that United are willing to offer him the prospect of more first-team football – Thiago started just 15 games last term – as well as vast improvement on the current £35,000-a-week salary he earns at Barcelona.
And we now offer just 1/2 that Thiago swaps the Camp Nou for Old Trafford this summer amid reports the deal is very close to happening, while it is 7/5 that he remains a Barca player beyond September 3rd.
Champions League winners Bayern Munich, under former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, are 5/1 to sign Thiago, with Chelsea, who have reportedly expressed a late interest, a 14/1 chance – the same price as Manchester City.
For Thiago to sign for any other club this summer, prices range from 18/1 and bigger.