The following is a roundup of soccer stories from U.K. newspapers, with clickable Internet links.
United Nears Thiago
Manchester United is close to signing Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara for 17 million pounds ($26.3 million) after agreeing on personal terms that will pay the midfielder 5 million pounds a year, the Daily Mail reported.
United still has to complete a deal with Barcelona for Thiago, 22, and discussions between the teams will continue over the weekend, the newspaper added.
Release Clause Cut
Bayern Munich and Chelsea entered the race to sign Thiago after it emerged his lack of game time for Barcelona last season had cut the release clause in his contract to 15 million pounds, the Daily Mirror reported.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola gave Thiago his first professional contract at Barca and his decision to move for the player may prove decisive, the newspaper added.
Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain reached an agreement in principle to join Arsenal on a four-year contract worth about 130,000 pounds a week, the Guardian reported.
The final obstacle in the way of the Gunners signing Higuain for a club-record fee of at least 20 million pounds is for Real’s yet-to-be-appointed new manager to sanction the trade, the newspaper added.
Liverpool paid striker Andy Carroll about 1 million pounds to make his season-long loan to West Ham United permanent, the Daily Mirror reported.
Carroll, who signed a six-year contract with the Hammers two days ago, is said to have been stalling on the 17.5 million-pound switch and Liverpool feared he would not move unless it made the payment, the newspaper added.
Southampton agreed to pay Celtic 10 million pounds to sign Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama, the Daily Mail reported.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Inter Milan are also interested in the 21-year-old, who has one year remaining on his contract, and may make rival bids for him, the Mail added.