The words “see you in Manchester” scrawled on the match ball after Spain Under 21’s European Championship victory have set the rumour mill ablaze with speculation.
Barcelona starlet Thiago Alcantara scored a hat-trick as he skippered La Rojita to victory over Italy, to underline his status as one of the brightest young talents in European football.
He wants to start every match for the Blaugrana, but he simply can’t with established superstars like Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez standing in his way.
Clubs like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and yes, Manchester United, are reportedly keen to sign Thiago.
And the message on the match ball is being interpreted as ‘evidence’ that the attacking midfielder will play at Old Trafford next season.
Barcelona acknowledge that Thiago has itchy feet, and that he could be enticed away from the Camp Nou.
They want him to stay. Their long-term plan for Thiago has always been for him to inherit Xavi’s midfield mantle, schooled in the ways of Barca as he is.
But the club has now been forced to admit that they could lose Thiago.
They say they have done everything in their power to convince him to be patient, and wait for his time to come as the beating heart of their tiki-taka methodology.
"We did everything," a source reportedly close to Barca told AS, regarding their efforts to convince Thiago to stay.
"The directors, [manager] Tito [Vilanova] and Zubi [Andoni Zubizarreta, Barca sporting director] all spoke with the player, to explain the evolution of the squad to him.
“He is a sensational player, among those we do not doubt, he has a contract and we hope he does not go."
Thiago meanwhile, is keeping coy regarding his future, saying only that he wants to play regular first-team football, to enhance his chances of featuring for champions Spain at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
"I have always had patience," he told RAC 1.
"There are no more underage teams left so now we are thinking about the senior side.
“To play a World Cup would be a dream, my biggest aspiration. I must play games with my club and show in the day-to-day action that I can be with the senior side."