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Thursday’s Football Focus

Just a couple of weeks ago it looked as though Spain’s Under-21 captain Alcantara Thiago was on his way to Manchester United as David Moyes’ first big signing since taking over the reins from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Well, that seems far less likely now after Pep Guardiola, Thiago’s former boss at Barcelona, announced in unequivocal terms that he wanted Bayern Munich to sign the hugely talented midfielder

It seems unthinkable that Thiago won’t at least consider seriously teaming up again with Guardiola after such a warm invitation and United may be already resigned to losing out on one of their chief summer targets unless he has set his heart on playing in the Premier League.

Better news for United is that there is no news on the Wayne Rooney front and it would appear that there is now every chance that the striker will be staying at Old Trafford. He’s now 1/5 with Coral to start next season in the United red, 7/2 to leave.

Others may be leaving, however. The unsettled Nani has several suitors across Europe, while Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, who joined United together in the January transfer window seven years ago, are now being seriously linked to Bayern and Monaco respectively.

It is also looking a little less likely than it was that Luis Suarez will be leaving Liverpool before the summer is out – Coral now go 1/3 that he will go and 2/1 that he stays. Manager Brendan Rodgers is looking to strengthen his squad, not weaken it, and there is talk that Christian Tello, another highly promising Barcelona youngster who played at the Euro Under-21s, might be on his way to Anfield.

Swansea defender Ashley Williams is another who might be staying put, rather than joining Arsenal, as the Welsh club proved how ambitious they are with the record £12m signing of prolific Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony from Vitesse Arnhem.

Arsenal are still being strongly linked with several high-profile players, both here and abroad, including Gonzalo Higuain, Marouane Fellaini, Julio Cesar and Cesc Fabregas – as well as Rooney and Suarez – but nothing has materialised yet.

Unsettled Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke is also on Arsenal’s radar, but they are behind both Spurs (4/5) and Chelsea (11/4) in the queue, according to Coral. The young Belgian international has a £25m price tag attached, but that’s unlikely to put off the London teams, eager to add more firepower as they attempt to close down the two Manchester clubs.

Written by Jon Freeman