Premier League leaders Manchester United are preparing to bring Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara to Old Trafford in the summer, according to the Daily Mail. The report suggests Sir Alex Ferguson has been monitoring the 21-year-old for a while and offered £15m for his services 18 months ago, only for the Catalans to reject the bid.

Thiago Alcantara

Alcantara has failed to establish himself in the first team at the Nou Camp this season and has made only 18 appearances (nine starts) in the Spanish league. The player's father, Mazinho, now claims his son needs a move away from the club and regular first team football, in order to earn a call-up to the Spanish national side for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

"No one knows what might happen in the future. Football changes a lot and anything can happen. If Thiago wants to go to the 2014 World Cup, he needs to play much more. My son would play a lot more in any other team in the world," Mazinho explained.

"He's learning a lot playing with great players but Thiago is very ambitious and needs to play. Thiago has the quality to succeed at Barca. But he'd play a lot more at another club. He'd get into any other team in the world. I don't know if Barca are buying more players in the summer. They already have a lot of players who can play in the middle," the midfielder's father added.

The Spanish international is considered one of the brightest talents in European football and has also been linked with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, where he would be reunited with former coach Pep Guardiola. However, he later distanced himself from those reports.

As far as Ferguson and United are concerned though, with Paul Scholes now definitely in the twilight of his remarkable career, Darren Fletcher battling an ongoing medical condition and Anderson likely to leave, the arrival of Alcantara would strengthen the United midfield.