Carlos Tevez will finally seal his long-awaited move to Manchester City next week

The former Manchester United favourite is all set to join the City revolution and end weeks of speculation since Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson refused to sign the Argentina international on a permanent basis.

City, who leave for a pre-season tour of South Africa on Wednesday, are now in the process of paying Tevez's owner, Kia Joorabchain, the £26.5million they need to secure the 25-year-old's services, a move that would finally bury the third-party ownership row that has dogged Tevez since his arrival in England.

News of Tevez's imminent deal comes hot on the heels of City's decision to call a halt to their attempts to sign Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o.

With his path to City almost clear of obstacles, Tevez believes he will not be considered a traitor by the United faithful - despite the intense rivalry that exists between United and City,

"If I play for Manchester City I don't think the United fans will feel I am a traitor," he told The People.

"They have to remember that at least as far as I know I have been thrown out of the club and I have to study the best offers available."

Tevez will become City's third high profile signing this summer following the arrival of Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn Rovers and Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.

Sunderland Clinch Fraizer Campbell Signing From Manchester United

After snubbing his former side Hull City, Fraizer Campbell has pitched up at the Stadium of Light...

Sunderland have completed the signing of Fraizer Campbell from Manchester United after the 21-year-old passed his medical.

The deal has been valued at an initial £3.5 million with the fee expected to rise to £6 million depending on performances.

The England under-21 international snubbed the overtures of Hull City to sign a four-year deal with the Black Cats. He starred for Phil Brown's side in their 2007/08 promotion campaign, in which he scored 15 goals.

Campbell spent the majority of last season on loan at Tottenham Hotspur, after being included as a makeweight for Dimitar Berbatov's transfer in the other direction.

He failed to hold a starting berth at White Hart Lane though and made only 22 appearances, scoring three times, for Spurs.

He was recently part of England's under-21 European Championship campaign but missed the final defeat to Germany through suspension.

Manchester United Target Nicolai Boilesen Coy On Future

The young Dane claims he knows about the reported interest in him..

Manchester United target Nicolai Boilesen has stated that he is flattered by the interest he is being shown by some of Europe's top clubs.

The young Danish central defender has been tracked by Sir Alex Ferguson for many years, and a move to a big European club is expected this summer.

United, Premier League rivals Chelsea, Juventus, Ajax and Inter Milan are the main five clubs who have reportedly expressed an interest in signing the 17-year-old defender, and Ajax allegedly came very close to signing him last summer.

However, the transfer fell through as the Dutch giants felt a move at the time was not right, and cancelled the deal.

The player himself meanwhile, has stated that he is proud to be attracting the interest of such big clubs.

Speaking to Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet, Boilesen said, "I am flattered that all these clubs are interested."

The future of the player being dubbed 'the new Daniel Agger', in reference to the Liverpool central defender who also started his career with the Danish club, is far from certain, and a move could well happen this summer.

The Red Devils are therefore set to do battle with Chelsea once more, in similar fashion to their battle for John Obi Mikel, who eventually joined the Blues from Lyn Oslo of Norway.

Manchester United Never Made An Offer For Inter's Davide Santon

The Red Devils did not make a serious move for the Inter man, despite reports claiming the contrary...
Manchester United have never made a concrete offer for Inter defender Davide Santon as far as his agent is concerned. The representative has played down the speculation after the Italian signed a new deal with the Nerazzurri on Thursday.

Reports in England and Italy had linked the Inter starlet to the Premier League champions following his impressive maiden season in Serie A. The Nerazzurri were quick to stamp their hallmark on the player and keep him at the club by offering their man a new deal until 2014. Santon signed new terms, with his wages jumping from €100,000-per-year to €1 million.

Santon’s agent, Renzo Contratto, insists United never made a serious move regarding his client, despite the speculation.

"Saying that there was something concrete is false. Let's say that the top clubs are always interested in a good player. However, there was no concrete offer from Manchester United," the agent told

"I think it was just the usual transfer market voices. Santon signed a new deal with Inter and he is very happy."

Manchester United: Set Pieces Are Key Weakness Now

Enough has been said about how United will revert to the traditional 4-4-2, how Rooney won't be forced out of position, how United's strikers will start playing more centrally and be more direct.

So far, United have signed three players—a proven finisher in Owen, a raw talent in Obertan and a pacey traditional winger in Valencia. These signings were made to replenish the squad, after the loss of Ronaldo to Real Madrid and Tevez, most likely to Manchester City.

It is evident that the current United squad will not be as threatening at set pieces as they used to be.

The departures of Ronaldo and Tevez means that United have lost their proven direct free-kick takers.

I have always maintained that Ronaldo's free-kick have a similar conversion rate to Beckham's. True, Beckham's free-kicks look much more elegant, curling towards a corner, but they are often palmed away for a corner by goalkeepers.

Ronaldo's free-kick comprises of pure pace, power and venom.

So what if it hits the wall half the time? Once it's on target, it will either be too powerful for the goalkeeper to save, or he will fist it into the path of one of United's lurking strikers.

Tevez is also a proven free-kick taker. Having taken a few for West Ham, before going down the pecking order after signing for United. He scored some wonderful free-kicks over the years.

This threat from direct free-kicks will be sorely missed. Who are the other free-kick takers in United, you ask?

Hargreaves is a proven free-kick taker, but he is most effective when closer to goal. You won't see him taking free-kicks 40 yards away. Also, his fitness is a very big question, and it's highly unlikely that he will feature in every match like Ronaldo did.

Giggs hasn't had a good free-kick in months, and with the amount of rotation that Ferguson will have for him, it is very unlikely that Giggs will always be there to take the free-kicks.

Wayne Rooney might be a good free-kick taker, as he did score a beautiful one on his debut against Fenerbache, but it's too early to tell.

I do know that Fabio has a great left foot and is also lethal from the dead ball situation as well, but he won't get to play much as Evra is such a complete left back.

In all, there are many contenders for Ronaldo's position as the free-kick taker, but only Rooney stands the greatest chance of being played every game, and hopefully his free-kick taking is up to par.

Another big loss would be Ronaldo's ability in the air. Without him, United's only proven goal threats from indirect free-kicks and corners are Vidic and Ferdinand.

Berbatov may be tall, at 1.88m, but he does not contain the aggression in the air that Vidic and Ronaldo bring. He does not have the spring in his legs that can elevate him sufficiently to head the ball cleanly. This is evident in his debut season, where Berbatov missed many clear headers and put them over the bar.

Ferdinand is hardly a dominant attacking force in the air. Having scored a paltry six goals in 208 games in the EPL for United. He definitely ranks below the likes of Hyypia, who has gotten 22 in 317 appearances for Liverpool.

Vidic is the only clear threat that is left in United from indirect free-kicks and corners. He is United's best chance of getting goals from these set pieces with the departure of Ronaldo.

Perhaps Manucho might be a possibility, but what chances does he have of starting ahead of Rooney, Berbatov and Owen?

What is clear to see is that the signings made will not be able to replace the set piece void that Ronaldo has left in the team.

Owen is a great finisher, but he does not have the height to compete in the air.

Valencia is not known for his heading prowess, and Obertan may be one cm taller than Ronaldo, but he definitely does not look as athletic as Ronaldo is. Maybe, in time, Obertan can be groomed to be like Ronaldo. However, right now, its clear that there are no strong headers of the ball in the team.

Perhaps the mantra of the next season will be efficiency. Efficiency in putting away chances—efficiency in open play.

Because it is clear that United's current weakness is their strength at set pieces.

Man Utd's Ferguson faces another defeat as he bids to sign Huntelaar

LONDON: Manchester United look set to miss out on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar with Stuttgart poised to snatch the £20mil-rated Real Madrid star.

The German outfit want him to replace Mario Gomez, who has joined Bayern Munich, and have been locked in talks with Madrid over the last few days.

SunSport revealed Alex Ferguson’s interest in the Dutch hitman but the Scot will have to hurry if he does not want to be frustrated yet again in his efforts to bring top talent to Old Trafford.

Fergie has already lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Real and missed out on Lyon’s Karim Benzema when the Frenchman snubbed his advances in favour of a move to the Bernabeu.

And with Carlos Tevez expected to complete his move to Manchester City in the coming weeks, Fergie is keen to add another striker to compete for a starting berth with Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.

Huntelaar, 25, is said to be keen on a move to Stuttgart were trying to thrash out terms with Madrid in order to beat United to the punch.

Madrid are desperate to raise cash in order to pay for their huge summer outlay which has already reached £184mil.

They also need to get rid of nine players and Holland ace Huntelaar is deemed surplus to requirements despite only joining in an £18m switch from Ajax in January.

Meanwhile, Sunderland are set to sign United striker Fraizer Campbell.

United have accepted a fee of around £5.5mil for the England Under-21 hitman.

And Black Cats boss Steve Bruce is likely to land his man early next week.

Campbell will head to the north east for a medical over the next few days.

The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Tottenham after joining as part of the Dimitar Berbatov deal.

Campbell made 22 appearances, 13 of them as a substitute, and scored three goals during his spell at White Hart Lane.

Bruce has been targeting strikers throughout the summer.

He is understood to have tabled an £11mil offer for Portsmouth’s Peter Crouch.

Spurs marksman Darren Bent is also a target but Harry Redknapp’s asking price could prove to be a stumbling block. — The Sun, London

Manchester United target Atletico Madrid star Sergio Aguero

Manchester United have targeted Atletico Madrid star Sergio Aguero and are plotting a player-plus-cash offer for the Argentine sensation.

United chief Sir Alex Ferguson is looking for more fire-power up front following the departures of Cristaino Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, despite the arrival of Michael Owen.

And South American ace Aguero, the 21-year-old son-in-law of Diego Maradona, is a possible option with Atletico ready to sell - if the price is right.

United intermediaries have approached Atletico to see if they would be interested in a deal worth £30million plus Portuguese winger Nani.

Another option that might make the Madrid outfit more interested, would see a payment of £18m plus Dimitar Berbatov, who had an underwhelming first season at Old Trafford after his arrival from Spurs.

But selling Berbatov would only decrease the striking options available to Fergie, who would then also have to go looking for a big man, with Real Madrid’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar seemingly more likely to join either Stuttgart or Marseilles.

So far, Atletico are still holding out for the full £52million valuation written into Aguero’s release clause following his £16m signing from Independiete three years ago.

Aguero’s personal terms might also be a problem, with the Argentine understood to want somewhere in the region of £200,000 per week, which would destroy the Old Trafford pay structure and make him the biggest earner by far.

United will not even consider such a salary but are aware that it would be an opening gambit by the player and his representatives, taking advantage of the instability caused by Real Madrid and Manchester City.

More pertinently, United are aware that despite claims to the contrary, Atletico are ready to do business and that it is a matter of price alone, which opens up the opportunity of landing their man.

Bobby Charlton Backs Manchester United's Recruitment Of Michael Owen

The Old Trafford legend thinks the former Liverpool striker could prove to be a shrewd signing.

Bobby Charlton feels that the loss of some big name players during the summer transfer window could have caused problems for Manchester United, but the England World Cup winner feels that the shrewdness that characterises transfer dealings at Old Trafford will save the club.

The signing of Michael Owen in particular is an acquisition that Charlton feels, with careful management of the player, could prove to be highly influential.

"When you lose players like Cristiano Ronaldo and [Carlos] Tevez -they're forwards, they're goalscorers - that creates a problem," he told Sky Sports News. "But if Michael Owen plays well, then [it's less of a problem].

"He's 29, he's got a lot of time ahead of him. But he's had a lot of injuries in his time and we have to really be very careful, but the signs look pretty good.

"It looks as though at the end of the day we've made a really good decision."

Many observers have felt that the Red Devils must act quickly to redress the balance of things in the transfer market, especially with the £80 million received from the sale of Ronaldo to Real Madrid burning a hole in their metaphorical back pockets. Charlton, though, thinks that undue haste would be the enemy of progress in this summer's dealings.

"I think that everybody assumes that because we have a lot of money in the bank that we'll spend it hastily - we won't do that," he added.

"The club has always been fairly frugal, and we try to do our homework before we actually spend a lot of money on players.

"But if a good player comes along we are in the race like everyone else."

Manchester United Could Struggle To Collect Silverware In 2009-2010

The 2009-2010 English football season begins in just over a month's time. While it is far too early to talk legitimate "previews," it isn't too early to speculate on the reigning champs.

Manchester United have seen much glory in the last three years. Three Premier League crowns, A Carling Cup, A Champions League Trophy, a FIFA Club World Cup trophy, and two FA Community Shields.

Much of that success can be attributed to players who no longer wear the United shirt. Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for 80 million quid, and Carlos Tevez, unhappy with his playing time, is going to move to Manchester City or Chelsea.

Cristiano Ronaldo is irreplaceable, at least in the near term. He is the fastest player in the world, possesses more skill than anyone with the exception of one or two other players and he can score 25+ goals from a wing position.

Tevez, although brilliant in his own right, is replaceable, it's just sad for most of the Mancunian Army to see him leave on such terms.

June and July have been busy months for departures and arrivals. In is long-time target Antonio Valencia, who has the ability to score 15-20 goals a season.

United also swooped up French neophyte Gabriel Obertan. He is a young winger with a lot of promise, but for him to make a large contribution this season is optimistic at best.

The shock move of the summer came when United signed former Liverpool and Newcastle forward Michael Owen. The former England star is looking for a career changing opportunity at United, and I think he can get it.

United haven't started the season with a win since their 2006-2007 EPL title-winning season. Two home draws in the past two season's inaugural weeks to Reading and Newcastle have left United behind the eight-ball early.

Can United set another new record and win their fourth straight Barclays Premier League title? Sure, but it is going to take most of the team staying at full fitness.

In the last two seasons United have been stretched thin at times at the back, and before the signing of Berbatov last year, up top as well.

The new signings aren't blockbuster, but Ronaldo's exit was all the blockbuster United needed to stay in the off-season limelight.

The return of Owen Hargreaves would be helpful to shore up the middle. Michael Owen's fitness is always at question, lucky for him he joins a club with one of the best fitness staffs in the entire world.

Critics are asking where the goals will come from now that Cristiano is gone. It's a worthy question, but I think it is one that can only be struggled to answer if United start the season with a goal drought.

For United fans to be bullish on the 2009-2010 campaign might be stretching fandom into unrealistic realms, but most commentators last year had United finishing 2nd or 3rd, and they were able to prove why they hold the most Premier League titles.

While I bleed United red, I tend to think United may end the season without much silverware. The new United kits don't offer much in the way of anticipation either. They are simply hideous.

Will United be able to survive sans Ronaldo? We shall see, in just over a month.

Real Madrid Now Overtaking Manchester United's Class

Manchester United may be the defending Champions of English football, but their makeup is nothing compared to the makeup of their biggest European rivals, Real Madrid.

Comparing a lineup that has Raul, Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Raul Albiol, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Wesley Sneijder, and Arjen Robben to Manchester's Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and Nemanja Vidic is like comparing mangoes to apples.

Both are popular fruits, but the mango proves to be the softer and sweeter of the two.

Manchester United would have to be the apple in this equation, but Real Madrid's captivating summer spree already has bookmakers, pundits, and fans alike thinking La Liga titles and possibly Champions League success are in store.

For now, we will solely focus on Madrid and Manchester out of respect to Barcelona...or not, depending on how you read into it.

Real Madrid look like a team that could do wonders in La Liga and elsewhere for seasons to come, with addition of France's top forward Benzema and Manchester United's winger Ronaldo coming into the fold.

Ronaldo glowingly spoke of Kaka and Benzema respectively, stating that he can't wait to link up with his new teammates and believes he'll garner more success at Madrid than he garnered at Manchester during his entire six seasons there.

Benzema is the latest French prodigy to have left France while yet to come of age, and at a tender age of 21, he is already drawing comparisons to French scoring legend Just Fontaine, who led France in the 1958 World Cup with an astonishing 13 goals in the tournament—a feat still not broken till this day.

Manchester United, on the other hand, still have Rooney and Ferdinand to lead the charges, but it's a far cry from the team that competed for the Champions League trophy this past season for sure.

Expectations are that Manchester will stumble out of the gate, with the absence of Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez a major factor. New signings Valencia and Owen will not make up for Ronaldo's quickness and goal-scoring abilities, but they should nevertheless provide a good cover up front.

However, one would have to look at Manchester City across the road and wonder if City, not United, can actually make a real challenge for the Premiership honors this season.

Manchester City have a richness of young talent coming up through the ranks from its academy, not to mention top quality players such as Robinho, Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Stephen Ireland, Vincent Kompany, and Nigel De Jong on the starting 11.

So it would be easy to say that Manchester City have the easier road ahead for next season, not Manchester United. All Manchester City need to do is to bring up their young talent while meshing the current makeup of the senior together and, if necessary, hire a more experienced and better quality manager.

Mark Hughes is a good fit, but I wouldn't bet my money on this man to carry Manchester City to the next level. A good test of that would a dream City versus Madrid matchup.

Perhaps if City were to come across a team like Real and Barcelona and compete against those teams evenly, then City supporters could have every right to boast about their club's chances.

United supporters ironically don't have that luxury for now, since the club suddenly is realizing that it doesn't have a Ronaldo or Robinho, or an Ireland or even Tevez—a sad twist of luck if you ask the average Joe.

Whether Manchester United, like Real Madrid, can maintain its dominant form into the next season remains to be seen, but my money is squarely now on Real Madrid to reach the pinnacle of success.

At home and abroad. Football-wise and marketing-wise as well. No exceptions.

Sir Alex Ferguson names Denis Law as his Manchester United idol

Denis Law

Denis Law playing for Manchester United in 1967. Photograph: Don Morley/Empics Sports Photo Agency

The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he idolised Denis Law when he was a player, whilst United stars such as Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Darren Fletcher – who chose Fernando Redondo – have also named their footballing heroes.

A statue of Law stands outside Old Trafford alongside those of Sir Bobby Charlton and the late George Best. It is a permanent reminder of the gifts the Scotland striker who scored 237 goals in 404 appearances for United.

Ferguson believes Law, who is only two years older than him at 69, deserves to be revered. He told the club's magazine, Inside United: "Denis Law was my hero as a player. I idolised him. When I first met him I was so excited. It was at a game in Paris, he had played in the first half and we went for a cup of tea afterwards.

"I thought: 'This is it, I've made it, I'm having a cup of tea with Denis Law!' For me, he epitomised everything a Scotsman is about. He was daring and courageous, he had that bravado about him and he had style. He was a truly fantastic footballer."

Apart from Ferguson, United's senior squad disclosed in the magazine the names of their heroes. Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and former striker Carlos Tevez all went for Diego Maradona. Giggs said: "That goal he scored against England – not that Hand of God goal – was absolutely amazing."

The club captain Neville named Bryan Robson as his hero. "I always think of him giving everything for the cause at the defensive end of the pitch and then throwing everything at the ball to get it in the back of the net at the other end," he said.

Former Argentina midfielder Redondo was the surprise choice of Fletcher. "I loved the way he played, how he sat in midfield and controlled the game, " said the Scotland international.

Glen Johnson believes Liverpool can steal the title from Manchester United next season.

The Anfield club's new £17million full-back is supremely confident his new employers have the quality to go one better than last season, when they finished as runners-up to the men from Old Trafford.

The England defender was unveiled yesterday as Liverpool's first major signing of the summer, and said: "The boys did fantastically well last year. Hopefully we can now get a few more points and steal it from Manchester United.

"We want to go as far as we can in every competition but all the lads want to win the Premier League and that would be a great start.

"Liverpool went very close last term, a matter of just a few points. If we can nick a few more points this time, and cut out a few mistakes, then the title is very much on for us."

Johnson, who won a title medal at Chelsea after moving from West Ham as a teenager for £6million when the Hammers were relegated in 2003, now sees himself with another chance of a title chase.

He arrives from Portsmouth, after re-establishing himself as an England player, and added: "I had a spell at Chelsea before and there were good and bad times but when a club like Liverpool comes in for you it is not a hard decision.

"It is a fantastic club - one of the biggest in the world - with a great history and I wanted to be a part of that.

"The hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you come to Anfield and hear 'You'll Never Walk Alone' even when you don't play for Liverpool.

"So I cannot begin to imagine how it is going to feel when I put the kit on for the first time.

"We have got some fantastic players and I wanted to come here and help Liverpool win the league.

"I can definitely improve, every player can. I want to improve every aspect of my game.

"Rafael (Benitez) has told me he wants more of the same form I showed last year, but he also wants me to improve. We will be working hard together to do that, and I am here to do my best."

Benitez last night hailed Steven Gerrard's contract extension as "really good" for the future of the club after the Reds skipper signed his new deal this week.

Gerrard agreed the extension to keep him at Anfield until 2013 in April and has now completed the formalities after returning from his summer holiday to begin pre-season training.

Benitez has already secured the futures of Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres, Daniel Agger and Yossi Benayoun this summer and is delighted to have Gerrard signed up for the next four years.

He said: "We have spent this summer trying to secure the players we have.

"It's really good to keep Kuyt, Torres, Agger, Benayoun and Steven. They are the here and now of the club and for the future it is really good.

"We are really pleased. We have a lot of good players who want to stay, to win and compete.

"The message has to be the same again this year - to be there, to be contenders and to fight. If we can win trophies it would be fantastic."

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic brushed aside transfer talk as he joined his Inter Milan team-mates in pre-season training.

The 27-year-old Sweden striker has been linked with clubs all over Europe in recent months, with Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid all reportedly interested.

"I'm happy to be here in Appiano (Inter's training ground)," said Ibrahimovic on the club's official TV channel.

"Have I read the newspapers in recent weeks? Yes, but I didn't find anything interesting.

"Whatever happens, happens. I'm happy to be here now. I'm as happy as the first day I joined Inter."

Ibrahimovic, who finished as last season's top scorer in Serie A, is under contract with Inter through June 2013.

Manchester United have handed keeper Ben Foster a new four-year deal, and are poised to sign Gabriel Obertan from Bordeaux.

While the 20-year-old is having a medical ahead of a probable move to Old Trafford, Foster has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2013.

It is a welcome boost for the 26-year-old England international, whose career has been hampered by injury.

He missed the end of last season after needing surgery on a ruptured ligament in his right thumb.

Foster was forced to miss the title run-in and the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona because of his injury. He also sat out England's World Cup qualifiers in June.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "We are delighted that Ben has signed a new four-year deal.

"Ben is seen as one of the best young goalkeepers in England and we genuinely see him as a successor to Edwin van der Sar."

Foster remains determined to claim the number one spot when Van der Sar decides to retire but knows he faces stiff competition from Polish shot-stopper Tomasz Kuszczak.

He said: "I'm really happy to commit my future to the club.

The spirit here is fantastic and working along side Edwin and Tomasz has been a great influence."

Foster has made only 10 appearances for United after arriving in July 2005 from Stoke.

However he took his chance on the big stage in March when his penalty shoot-out heroics helped the club defeat Tottenham and lift the Carling Cup.

It took Foster almost three years to make his competitive United debut - he was outstanding in a 1-0 win over Derby in 2008.

No sooner had he arrived at United he was farmed out to Watford and helped them win promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

He stayed at Vicarage Road the following season and made his debut for England in the 1-0 defeat against Spain in a friendly at Old Trafford in 2007.

Foster then returned to United but had to undergo cruciate knee ligament surgery, ruling him out for almost a year.

Meanwhile, United look to have won the race for France Under-21 star Obertan, who has been also been linked with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Arsenal.

Reports in France say that a £3million fee has been agreed and that Obertan will sign a four-year contract.

Bordeaux sent him on loan for the second half of last season to Lorient where he made 15 appearances, scoring one goal.

Club president Jean-Louis Triaud stated yesterday that it was a "great possibility" United would sign Obertan.

Obertan scored against England U21 in March and took the Most Valuable Player award at last month's Toulon International youth tournament.

Manchester United are closing in on promising Bordeaux winger Gabriel Obertan.

The 20-year-old is having a medical ahead of a probable move to Old Trafford.

United look to have won the race for the France Under-21 star, who has been also been linked with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Arsenal.

Reports in France say a £3million fee has been agreed and Obertan will sign a four-year contract.

Bordeaux sent him on loan for the second half of last season to Lorient where he made 15 appearances, scoring one goal.

Club president Jean-Louis Triaud stated yesterday it was a "great possibility" United would sign Obertan.

Obertan scored against England Under-21s in March and took the Most Valuable Player award at last month's Toulon International youth tournament.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta claims he is having trouble getting in contact with Samuel Eto'o to resolve his future.

Eto'o has only one year left on his existing contract with Barca and where he will be plying his trade next season has been the subject of intense speculation over the last few weeks.

Barca insist they are keen to keep the prolific hitman and have offered him a two-year deal, but the 28-year-old has also attracted interest from elsewhere with Laporta revealing last month that Manchester City had made a "stratospheric" contract offer to the player.

There has been no recent news on Eto'o's situation though, and Laporta claims he has not been able to speak to the former Real Mallorca and Real Madrid striker.

"I've called him a couple of times, but he hasn't picked up the phone. I don't know if he has changed his number or what," Laporta was quoted as saying on TVE's '59 segundos' programme late last night.

"The situation has saddened me because we've always had a clear and direct relationship. We offered him two years and we're waiting for his answer. I would like to be able to talk to him calmly."

Meanwhile, Laporta insisted his side's lack of transfer activity so far this summer is nothing to panic about.

While arch rivals Real Madrid have already splashed out close to £200million on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Raul Albiol, things have been much quieter at the Nou Camp.

Although they have been linked with a host of players, including David Villa, Franck Ribery, Javier Mascherano and Filipe Luis, Barca have yet to dip into the transfer market.

Laporta confirmed they are looking at strengthening the squad that won the treble last season but insists he is "calm" about the lack of new faces so far.

"We need a few small finishing touches: a left-back, a centre-back, a midfielder and a striker," he said.

"We already have a very competitive team, young and of high quality."

Two of the biggest names that Barca are looking at are Valencia hitman Villa and Bayern Munich winger Ribery, although neither player will come cheap.

On Villa, Laporta said: "He is a player who interests us, for whom we have made an offer. The offer is very good, but it's not for 50 or 60milllion euros, it's closer to 40."

Regarding Ribery, who Bayern have reportedly slapped an 80million euros price tag on, Laporta said: "He is a player who interests us at a logical price. Bayern do not want to sell him, although they already know to let us know if they do think about selling him."

Laporta was also asked about Madrid's world-record £80million signing Cristiano Ronaldo, to which the Barca president insisted he would rather have Lionel Messi.

"(Ronaldo) is a great professional and, but me I like Messi more," he said.

"I'm convinced he (Messi) is the best player ever. He is very happy at Barca, he is the emblem of the club and it's natural leader. We are delighted with him. He is incredible, great...priceless."

France Under-21s winger Gabriel Obertan is in shock at his sudden move to Manchester United.

Obertan has secured a four-year contract at Old Trafford, after leaving Bordeaux for a reported £3million.

He ended last season on loan to Lorient, where he scored one goal in 15 appearances and made only six starts.

However, he was named the most valuable player at the Toulon youth tournament last month.

That prompted United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to move in and increase his attacking options following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

Obertan told French radio station RMC: "I knew they had been following me for a few years but I did not think it was going to happen this season.

"We had no longer been in too much contact until the England Under-21s game where I played well for France and scored a goal.

"That helped things along. We spoke again, and I ended up signing.

"He [Ferguson] has put me at ease.

"He said to me that he knows my pros and cons. It's my potential that interests him. He has confidence in me. It is flattering and surprising.

"But I know I still have a lot of work to do to get to that [Ronaldo's] level.

Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff is not convinced Obertan will be a success at United.

"He certainly has some talent, but also some gaps (in his game)," Gourcuff, whose son Yoann is the playmaker for France and Bordeaux, told Europe 1.

"I hope he will succeed, but he will have to make the step up mentally."

Obertan will sit out United's tour of Asia, because he is suffering from a minor injury.

The club head off next week and play their opening match on July 18 against a Malaysia XI.

Three other matches have been scheduled in Indonesia, Korea and China.

Rio Ferdinand believes it will be ideal preparation for the coming campaign.

"The important thing about pre-season is getting some good training done, " the England defender told MUTV.

"One of the main reasons we have been successful in the last few years is because we've had a good base from pre-season.

"It takes a bit of time to get used to the humid conditions in Asia. But it is a good exercise to play against teams that pose different threats."

Cristiano Ronaldo: I'm worth more than £80m Real Madrid paid Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo, never a man prone to humility, believes he is worth more than the £80 million Real Madrid paid for him, though recognises that he owes Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson a great deal for making him the player he is today.

Around 85,000 people turned out at the Bernabeu earlier this week to witness the unveiling of the world’s most expensive player and the club shop has been doing brisk trade with Ronaldo-branded merchandise flying off the shelves – legally and other wise.

The adulation sits comfortably with Ronaldo, who is unlikely to feel the pressure of an unprecedented price tag.

“Of course the club can pay £80m for me. Or more. I think I’m worth more,” said Ronaldo.

“Everyone says ‘no’ but I say ‘yes’. Somebody will have to evaluate me.”

Ronaldo has long yearned to wear the white strip of Real and insists it was always his decision to leave Manchester for Madrid.

“In reality I chose where I wanted to play,” Ronaldo told the Sun. “I was in Manchester for six years and I owe them everything that I am now.

“In Manchester I made history and won many titles. They knew a year ago what I wanted.

“That’s why things happened now. It was a pleasure for me to play at Old Trafford but now a new chapter in my life begins at the Bernabeu with new challenges. I wanted to play for this club and for that reason I’m here.

“I’m used to speculation. I could have signed for Madrid in 2008 but I belonged to Manchester.”

Ronaldo, still only 24, also believes that the move to Spain will only see him develop as a player.

“I’m less selfish than I used to be,” he said. “Four years ago, I always tried to make the play and finish it off myself by scoring.

“But experience makes you understand that playing in a team and being a team player is what helps you achieve the big objectives.

"Madrid will see the best of Cristiano.”

Manchester United Planning To Set Up Cafes In India

Premier League and European giants Manchester United have chosen India as their next market to make investments, according to reports in the Indian media.

Manchester United have arguably the biggest fanbase among European clubs in India and are planning to set up cafe bars in the country.

It's been reported that Manchester United Food & Beverage Asia have done a survey of the Indian market and have selected a certain number of cities to set up casual dining outlets.

Man United cafes are already in operation in Singapore, Seoul and Jakarta and have been quite successful. United are a hugely followed club in Asia and are arguably the most popular in India.

Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune and Delhi are the cities said to be where Manchester United would set up their cafes. Such cafes usualy have a huge video wall playing matches of the club, contain club memorabilia and host promotion events related to the club.

Manchester United Ready To Present Inter With Zlatan Ibrahimovic Bid

The Red Devils are ready to swoop for the striker, according to British reports...

Manchester United have been keeping their eyes on Inter ace Zlatan Ibrahimovic and are ready to make a bid after missing out on Karim Benzema, according to The Mirror.

'Ibra', who finished last season as Serie A's top goal scorer, has been surrounded by rumours claiming he will be leaving. The report from the British tabloid claims United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to make a bid of around €35 million for the Swede.

Despite reports in England, Inter director Lele Oriali claimed on Tuesday that the striker will be staying with the Nerazzurri. Inter have regularly underlined their intention to keep Ibrahimovic, managing to keep Barcelona at bay last month, despite reports of a mega offer.

Furthermore, coach Jose Mourinho recently suggested that no player will be sold once pre-season begins, which will be tomorrow morning for Inter.

If reports in England are to be believed, Ferguson would have to offer the Nerazzurri a mega payment within the next 24 hours in order to beat Mourinho's transfer deadline. Over the last few weeks, reports in Italy regarding the striker's future have become less frequent, suggesting he is likely to remain.

Manchester United Leading Race For Real Madrid's Huntelaar

With Milan apparently no longer interested, the stage is set for the Red Devils to capture 'The Hunter'...

Manchester United are leading the race to sign Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Real Madrid, after Milan decided to focus all their attentions on Luis Fabiano.

Huntelaar has fallen well down the pecking order at Madrid in the midst of their summer spending, a fact that has not gone unnoticed around Europe.

According to The Sun, Man United are now ready to swoop, with Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani having recently declared his preference for Fabiano.

Huntelaar has scored eight times during his 20 appearances at the Bernabeu, and is keen to sort his future out as soon as possible.

It is thought that United would have to pay in excess of the €23 million that Madrid payed for Huntelaar to land the Dutch striker from Ajax in Janaury.

Academy Is Vital To Manchester United

Local youngsters will always be the heartbeat of the side at Old Trafford, according to the Scotsman...

Manchester United's academy director Brian McClair, himself a striker with the club during the early years of Alex Ferguson's reign as Old Trafford manager, has revealed that homegrown talent is still considered as vital to the club, despite the scouting net being cast wider than ever.

A premium is put on players from the Greater Mancehster area too, with the likes of Longsight's Danny Welbeck and Salford's Richard Eckersley being held up as examples of the way local youngsters are still nurtured by the Red Devils, despite the influx of global talent in recent years.

"It is nice to see that young players who have passed through the academy are good enough to play for Manchester United," McClair told The Manchester Evening News.

"It would be lovely to have 22 home-grown English players in the first team squad. But that is not going to happen. It is great to have a few get to the front door and then get in.

"The support wants to have local boys and that's what we try to do. There will never be a situation where all your academy players are imports and there are no locals because the way FIFA and UEFA are looking at the game.

"They are making sure you have so many home produced players. You have to have your locals and home produced. That's how it should be.

"I couldn't see Manchester United surviving without the academy anyway because that has been a part of the fabric of the club. That is part of the enjoyment of the success of the club.

"I couldn't see a squad of 22 players all from external transfers and I couldn't see people being happy with that either.

"I don't think it is harder for the Manchester boys. But the fact is there are not as many local boys playing football anymore as there were 20 years ago. It is about numbers.

"Why are there so many Brazilians playing all over the world? A lot are still playing football because if you ask the majority of them, and the Argentineans, they are coming from the favelas, the poor areas, so football is their only way out."

There is one man who can be thanked for the maintenance of the club's youth policy, according to McClair, and that is his fellow Scotsman who manages the club.

"We are blessed here for various reasons but one huge plus is that we have the top man in Sir Alex Ferguson who has invested time and interest in youth development," he continued.

"It has helped the club flourish. We appreciate what we have. The club have also invested in the infrastructure. The facilities are a massive benefit to us. The club continue to look to invest in it. You can always get better in things."

Kleberson Rues Bad Fortune At Manchester United

The Brazil international thinks he could have been a hit if he had been afforded more time in the Premier League...
Flamengo midfielder Kleberson feels that his time in the Premier League should not be looked upon as a failure, and, that with a bit more luck, he could have been a big hit at Manchester United.

The Brazil international went to Old Trafford at the same time Cristiano Ronaldo, but the pair would enjoy success at very different levels.

Unfortunately, Kleberson dislocated his shoulder during his time with the Red Devils which led to him falling out of favour while Cristiano Ronaldo quickly blossomed into a crowd favourite.

The 30-year-old feels that he was hard done by during his time in Manchester, and insisted that not everyone is guaranteed success under Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I arrived in Manchester, along with Ronaldo, with a lot of hope but left with huge sadness," he explained, quoted by Sky Sports.

"An injury in only my second league match proved to be a very negative factor and in my second season I wasn't given many chances.

"I believe I could have been a bigger success in English football. But not everyone is guaranteed success at United."
Flamengo midfielder Kleberson feels that his time in the Premier League should not be looked upon as a failure, and, that with a bit more luck, he could have been a big hit at Manchester United.

The Brazil international went to Old Trafford at the same time Cristiano Ronaldo, but the pair would enjoy success at very different levels.

Unfortunately, Kleberson dislocated his shoulder during his time with the Red Devils which led to him falling out of favour while Cristiano Ronaldo quickly blossomed into a crowd favourite.

The 30-year-old feels that he was hard done by during his time in Manchester, and insisted that not everyone is guaranteed success under Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I arrived in Manchester, along with Ronaldo, with a lot of hope but left with huge sadness," he explained, quoted by Sky Sports.

"An injury in only my second league match proved to be a very negative factor and in my second season I wasn't given many chances.

"I believe I could have been a bigger success in English football. But not everyone is guaranteed success at United."

Brazil international Kleberson believes with a bit more luck he could have been a success at Manchester United

The Brazil international was snapped up by Sir Alex Ferguson at the same time as Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003, although the duo enjoyed vastly different levels of success at Old Trafford.

While Ronaldo swiftly became a fans' favourite Kleberson dislocated his shoulder in just his second outing against Southampton and eventually fell out of favour in his second season.

While Kleberson has won 30 caps for Brazil after joining Flamengo following a two-year spell with Besiktas, Ronaldo has just become the world's most expensive player following his �80million switch to Real Madrid.

Hull City In No Hurry To Complete Deal For Manchester United's Fraizer Campbell

The Red Devils' front-man is currently on holiday with his family and Phil Brown is hoping to lure him back to the KC...

Hull City are prepared to be patient in their attempts to persuade Fraizer Campbell to ditch Old Trafford for the KC Stadium, despite a lack of success in this summer's transfer window.

Manager Phil Brown saw a major transfer target, Marc-Antoine Fortune, escape yesterday as the Frenchman opted for Celtic over the Tigers.

However, Brown is undeterred and is happy to play the waiting game for Campbell, despite having added only one name to Hull's roster so far this summer.

Boulogne's Steven Mouyokolo is the only fresh face heading with Hull to their Italian pre-season training base.

Hull agreed a fee with Manchester United for the 21-year-old Campbell around four weeks ago but have yet to draw the player to the negotiating table.

Despite the lack of activity, Brown is hoping for fruitful dialogue with Campbell and his advisor once the player returns for holiday on July 16.

Brown told The Mail, "I had the chance to meet his Dad again before he went away and we're still optimistic.

"Fraizer deserves his holiday after a long season but we'll meet up when he returns on July 16.

"Hopefully that will be a positive day in negotiations with Fraizer and his father but we're prepared to wait.

"We're happy to be patient. There's a lot of work going on in the background and while the headlines might not be as exciting, we're making sure everything will be in place."

Cristiano Ronaldo: Bring on Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he would love to take on his old club Manchester United in the Champions League in the coming season.

Ronaldo was introduced to 80,000 adoring fans at the Bernabeu last night following his world record breaking £80 million move from Old Trafford to Real Madrid — and the Portuguese superstar proved a huge hit.

Typically confident, 24-year-old Ronaldo stated that he believed he would cope with the pressure of delivering for Madrid.

And he added that he had no regrets about leaving United, after helping Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to a third successive domestic title and second successive Champions League final last season.

United lost 2-0 to Barcelona in the European Cup decider, which turned out to be Ronaldo’s last game for the Red Devils.

“I think we made the right decision. I wanted to win the Premier League and we reached the Champions League final. I am happy with the season I had last year,” he said.

“I have to say thank you to all (United) supporters, the boss (Sir Alex Ferguson), friends and team-mates — I've been there six years and have friends there. But people will understand and respect my decision.”

Ronaldo added that he joked with United boss Ferguson about a possible reunion in the Champions League.

“He was saying about getting (Patrice) Evra to kick me. I hope to play against United, I really hope it will happen,” said Ronaldo, who could make his Real debut in Dublin on July 20 in a pre-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers, managed by former Northern Ireland and Glentoran midfielder Michael O’Neill.

Owen Shirts Not Selling At Manchester United Megastore

The free transfer of Michael Owen has sparked no scramble for the player's shirt in the club's megastore.

Manchester United's Michael Owen coup, bought on a free transfer after the former England international's contract at relegated outfit Newcastle United expired, has not proved popular in terms of shirt sales, as one employee at the club's megastore revealed nobody had requested a Michael Owen shirt.

"We haven't got his number yet, which might have had an effect, [but] we are not expecting a big demand even when that is known," the employee is quoted to have told British tabloid The Sun.

"As far as I know, no one has asked for an Owen shirt.

"We print about 3,000 for Wayne Rooney but we'll be doing nowhere near that for Owen," the source concluded.

Owen received his football education at Manchester United's arch-rivals Liverpool.

Despite not being warmly received by some sections of Red Devils fanbase, the player has been welcomed by the club's playing staff, and burgeoning Brazilian midfielder Anderson recently opined that Owen is the pride of the country and that the club are hoping to groom the player back to his best form.