Manchester United have reportedly agreed personal terms with Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The Mail Online reports a £5m per year package has been agreed and the Premier League champions will pay their Spanish counterparts £17m for the player's services.
Alcantara's already considerable reputation rose dramatically after a superb performance in the final of the European U21 Championships, in which he scored a first-half hat-trick to lead Spain to victory over Italy.
The Catalans rate Alcantara very highly and his contract with the Nou Camp side includes a €90m release clause. However, given his lack of first team opportunities, that figure has reportedly fallen dramatically this summer, with ESPN believing the figure now stands at €18m.
United are long-time admirers and can offer the midfielder regular first team football, something his father has revealed is necessary if his son is to break into Spain's first team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Rio Ferdinand on United's New Season
Meanwhile, veteran United defender Rio Ferdinand is keen for his team mates to focus on the new season after returning from a summer break. The ex-England international is also keen to impress incoming manager David Moyes.
"Obviously the new manager will come in with new ideas, we've got to be ready and stay on the ball if we want to be successful. We've got to be focused on impressing him. But we've got to keep focus on making sure we're ready for the start of the season because it's important to get off to a good start and I'm confident we will. All the players faced a bit of an emotional time when he [Ferguson] told us [of his decision to retire]," Ferdinand said.
"We respect his decision. He's been here for so long and won so many things. It was only right that he went out the way he did, which is to win the league. It speaks volume of him as a man. He couldn't have gone at a better time for the club and we're looking forward to the next season," he added.