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Pique: Utd Target Thiago Must Stay

Gerard Pique hopes that Thiago Alcantara remains his club-mate at Barcelona.

The Spanish Under 21 skipper scored a sensational first-half hat-trick to help La Rojita defend their European Championship crown against Italy on Tuesday.

Even before his latest headline grabbing performance, attacking midfielder Thiago had been the subject of intense transfer speculation.

He certainly has the talent and ability to start for most top teams in world football, despite his tender age.

But at Barca, he has players like Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and now Neymar to compete with.

Consequently, Thiago has been linked by the rumour mill to all of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, as he seeks to enjoy more game time than the 15 matches he started at the Camp Nou last season.

Pique once left Barca in search of more game time himself, so he understands how Thiago could be champing at the bit for regular football.

But the lanky defender hopes his young team-mate remains patient, and stays at Barca to inherit the midfield mantle he has long been slated for.

"There is a possibility that he could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona,” Pique told Radio Onda Cero.

"Players in his position like Xavi were patient and they ended up defining an era."

Meanwhile, Manchester United must be licking their lips at the prospect of snapping Thiago up.

Veteran Red Devil Rio Ferdinand watched the 22-year-old son of former Brazil international Mazinho in action at the junior Euros, and clearly liked what he saw.

"Spain u21s were too much! Thiago wants the ball under pressure, he demands it anywhere. We need to produce that kind of mentality in our kids," Ferdinand tweeted.

Should Thiago quit Barca for a club like United, or is Pique right that he should bide his time at the Camp Nou?

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