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Alcantara Thiago to Manchester United?

Should I stay or should I go now? Top players around the world have been pondering that question throughout the first half of this summer and a few of them, it seems, are about to make up their minds.

It seems only a matter of time, perhaps days rather than weeks, until Alcantara Thiago joins Manchester United from Barcelona. This has been a rumour that hasn’t gone away for a while now and the move would appear imminent following reports that the brilliant midfielder’s father, former Brazilian international Mazinho, met with Red officials recently.

And the writing isn’t just on the wall, it’s on the ball, a ‘See You In Manchester’ message on the match ball claimed by Thiago for his hat-trick in the European Under-21 Final, apparently penned by United keeper David de Gea.

But other much talked about moves are still very much in the air, according to the betting markets. The gap is closing slightly between the price of whether Wayne Rooney stays at Old Trafford or goes to pastures new with some bookies now making a move away from Manchester slight favourite.

Coral make Rooney an 8/11 chance he remains with United, evens he leaves, but are more confident Carlos Tevez will be packing his bags over at the Etihad stadium before the start of next season (1/2 he goes). Italian giants Juventus and AC Milan are favourites for his signature.

With Real Madrid chipping away, one wonders how long Spurs and Gareth Bale will hold out. This is another one that could go either way with Coral 1/2 he stays put at White Hart Lane and 6/4 he leaves.

There is also plenty of speculation that Fernando Torres will be leaving Chelsea now that Jose Mourinho is back in charge, but he is 2/5 to stay at Stamford Bridge. If he does go, Barcelona are rumoured to be interested, but it would seem more likely that Torres would go to Napoli or return to his old club, Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea remain the front-runners to sign Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani ahead of Real Madrid and Man City, but the blue half of Manchester appears to be in the box seat when it comes to Isco, who, like Thiago, has made such a good impression for Spain’s youngsters in Israel over the past fortnight.

These comings and goings, completed or imminent, have, if anything, made it even tighter at the top of the Premier League with Coral making Man United 2/1 favourites to retain their title, just in front of Chelsea and City (both 12/5). Arsenal, seemingly on the verge of signing striker Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid, are best of the rest at 12/1.

Written by Jon Freeman