Man United and Arsenal miss out on Thiago

Manchester United and Arsenal have missed out on signing highly-rated Spanish Under-21 international midfielder Thiago Alcantara, after the youngster signed a new long-term contract with Barcelona.

The 20-year-old’s minimum fee release clause will now rise from £9 million to a staggering £80 million and the Champions League winners reportedly rejected “substantial” offers from English clubs this summer, with Manchester United, Arsenal and even Bolton Wanderers thought to have been among those interested in him.

The player’s agent and father, former Brazil international Mazinho, has revealed his delight at the way the Catalan giants handled the situation and insisted he was always convinced that his son would remain a Barcelona player.

“At no time did the boy feel threatened,” he said.

“The club were always calm and quiet even though they had substantial offers from Spain and England.

“But I never doubted whether Thiago would stay or not. The club always called us to give us that security that we wanted.”

The 20-year-old, who scored a superb long range free-kick to seal Spain’s recent European Under-21 Championships triumph, has signed a four-year deal, despite being unlikely to benefit from regular first-team football at the Nou Camp next season.

It is not yet known whether Alcantara staying will affect on the long-running Cesc Fabregas transfer saga, as Barcelona are believed to need to raise funds in order to finance a move.

By Tim Groves