Manchester United have been dealt a potential transfer blow in their pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara.
The 22-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer, with an €18million minimum fee release clause giving the Red Devils a genuine opportunity to land the Spanish international midfielder.
However, Barca spokesman Toni Freixa insists the central midfielder remains firmly in manager Tito Vilanova’s plans, and that he will begin pre-season training with the rest of the squad in Catalonia.
"We have the players we have and Thiago is one of them," Freixa told Radio Catalunya.
"Pre-season with us begins as scheduled."
Alcantara featured in less than 60% of Barca’s matches last season, which means the transfer clause in his contract at the Nou Camp has become active, according to the Daily Express.
And, with David Moyes taking the Manchester United reigns from Sir Alex Ferguson, a move for Alcantara would make a major statement at Old Trafford.
Were the youngster to join the Red Devils, he'd have compatriot David De Gea for company, with the former Atletico Madrid starlet beginning to flourish with the Premier League champions.
Alcantara would also bolster a midfield which no longer looks like the force it once was, with Paul Scholes retiring and Ryan Giggs reaching the end of his Manchester United career.