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Friday, July 15, 2011

Manchester United and Inter agree €40m fee for Wesley Sneijder as negotiations continue on personal terms

The Premier League champions will step up negotiations with the Dutch international's representatives as they seek a compromise over his €227,000-a-week stance

Manchester United have agreed a €40 million club record fee with Inter for the transfer of Wesley Sneijder, Goal.comcan reveal.

But Sneijder's wage demands are currently holding up the deal from being close to completion. Sources have told that the player's camp have indicated they want around227,000-a-week but United are reluctant to pay more than 193,000-a-week.

Nevertheless, the Premier League champions are hoping to reach a compromise over the difference as the prospect of a switch that would smash United's transfer record grows increasingly likely.

Senior officials from the two clubs are understood to have shaken hands on the terms of the deal after United chief executive David Gill made it clear the Premier League champions are willing to meet Inter's asking price in a series of meetings in recent days.

United have confirmed that Gill was in Zurich on Wednesday, where an Inter delegation was also present, to attend a European Club Association meeting but an Inter source told that he had been in Milan on Tuesday and early on Wednesday to lead Sneijder negotiations with another Old Trafford director.

United's focus will now turn to agreeing personal terms with the Holland international, who is regarded by the club as a natural heir to the recently retired Paul Scholes. An official bid will follow if the 19-times English champions are confident they can meet the player's demands.

It is believed that the 2011 Champions League finalists could attempt to meet the shortfall in the two parties' positions with bonus-related payments or an enhanced image rights deal

Sneijder is currently at Inter's pre-season training camp at Pinzolo in Italy. The deal will now depend on his desire to force through a move to Old Trafford, which offers him an excellent chance to add to an already impressive medal haul which includes domestic titles in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, in addition to the 2010 Champions League.

He has a contract at San Siro that expires in 2015 and would be content to see it out if a transfer fails to materialise this summer, hence his reluctance to agitate in public for a move.

New Inter manager Gian Piero Gasperini has told the Inter hierarchy that he does not see the Holland star as indispensable as he prepares to field a new 3-4-3 formation next season.

Despite the negotiations, Sir Alex Ferguson has attempted to cool talk of Sneijder moving to Old Trafford this summer.

The United boss, currently in America as part of the club's pre-season preparations, toldESPN
: "I keep reading about this, there's absolutely nothing at all to that.

"First of all I don't think Inter are prepared to sell him anyway.

"You get conjecture and you get speculation every week in newspapers unfortunately.

"And we have to answer these for some reason - why, I don't know, but we have to find a reason without adding insult to any particular club, or embarrassing any particular player. There's nothing we can do about it."

As in

Nike emerge as key to Wesley Sneijder completing €40m transfer from Inter to Manchester United

Sportswear giants prepared to help facilitate move to Old Trafford by closing the gap between United's offer and Dutchman's wage demands, which are threatening to derail talks

Sportswear giants Nike have emerged as key to Wesley Sneijder completing a €40 (£35.2) million move toManchester United.

The US-based firm sponsor Sneijder and supply the Premier League champions' kit and could be ready to step in and pay a percentage of the Dutchman's wages to ensure the club record transfer goes through.

Nike did the same when Brazilian striker Ronaldo made his move from Barcelona to Inter while their commercial rivals Adidas, who sponsor Real Madrid, were heavily involved in smoothing through the transfers of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham to the Bernabeu.

United have been trying to secure a deal for Sneijder this week, with chief executive David Gill staying behind from the club's pre-season tour of the US to hold talks with senior Inter officials in Milan. understands that United have indicated they will meet Inter's €40m asking price but negotiations have stalled over personal demands. The player's camp have indicated they want around €228,000 (£200,000) a week but United are reluctant to pay more than €194,000 (£170,000) a week.

Although Sir Alex Ferguson declared on Thursday that "there's no interest in Wesley Sneijder at this moment in time for a lot of reasons", sources have said that the deal is still very much alive.

The 27-year-old wants to move to Old Trafford and Ferguson regards the player as the final piece in his summer transfer jigsaw, while new Inter manager Gian Piero Gasperini views Sneijder as expendable as he prepares to field a new 3-4-3 formation next season.
United have lost Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Owen Hargreaves, Edwin van der Sar, Wes Brown and John O'Shea from their wage bill but have replaced them with David de Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones, and with annual interest payments of £45m per year to meet debt repayments they do not possess the funds of neighbours Manchester City or Chelsea.

Nevertheless, senior Nike officials are keen for Sneijder to move to Old Trafford because United's global brand and reach in markets such as the Far East and Latin America far outweighs that of Inter, who are also sponsored by the commerical giant, and they can help enhance the exposure of the Holland international.

It is increasingly common for major sponsors to play instrumental roles in mega-money transfers of marquee players.

A source close to the negotiations told "If Nike wants you to move then you will move. Nike wants Sneijder to Manchester United because it is easier for them to use him as a commercial icon.

"If United will only pay the same salary as Rooney and there is a gap between what they can offer and what the player wants, then Nike will pay the gap. It was the same with Adidas when they bought Cristiano Ronaldo and Beckham. When top players go to Real Madrid, Adidas are always involved in things financially."

Coincidentally, Nike have opened talks with United over a new kit deal to replace the current £23.5m-a-year package, which has been dwarfed by those recently signed by the French national team and Barcelona.

As reported at

Ferguson expects open title race

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes any one of six teams could win the Premier League this season.

Ferguson is not prepared to write off any of the traditional big four, even though Arsenal have endured a miserable summer, with question marks remaining over the futures of star men Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and Liverpool are without a championship since 1990.

And, with Manchester City preparing to make a concerted challenge on top spot and Ferguson believing Tottenham will benefit from being out of the Champions League, the United boss feels it will be a tougher title race than ever this season.

''We used to talk about a top four, with ourselves, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool,'' he said. ''You can't say that any more. Manchester City have definitely come into the frame. They have a buying power better than the rest of us.

''Maybe having the run in the European Cup just stretched Tottenham too much last season and they ended up being out of the top four. But you look at those teams and say any one of them could win the league.''

And Ferguson believes United's tour of the USA will be part of a vital preparation for what lies ahead.

''We know it is going to be such a big challenge again this season,'' said the Scot. ''It never changes. It is not an easy league to win. But we have experience of winning it. That helps.''

Credit to SoccerNet

Man Utd top Forbes' rich list

Manchester United have been named the world's most valuable sports team, according to Forbes magazine's annual top 50 list.

United, who are currently touring the USA for their pre-season preparations, came top in the list with a value of £1.65 billion. The Red Devils have recently signed sponsorship deals with Aon and Nike worth around £380 million and have accumulated 333 million supporters across the globe.

Seven other football teams made the list, with Real Madrid (5th) and Arsenal (7th) in the top ten.

Despite owner Roman Abramovich's vast personal fortune, Chelsea only came 46th, while Bayern Munich (19th), AC Milan (34th) and Juventus (49th) also made appearances.

Barcelona - widely regarded as the best side in the world - came only 26th in the ranking as their debts held them back despite their worldwide appeal.

The Forbes Top Ten:

1. Manchester United £1.65bn
2. Dallas Cowboys £1.13bn
3. New York Yankees £1.06bn
4. Washington Redskins £960m
5. Real Madrid £900m
6. New England Patriots £850m
7. Arsenal £740m
8. New York Giants £734m
9. Houstan Texans £727m
10. New York Jets £708m

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

United legend Irwin wary of City slickers

Former Manchester United full-back Denis Irwin believes that Manchester City will pose the greatest threat to the Old Trafford side's hopes of claiming a 20th league title next season.

Ahead of the opening game of United's pre-season tour of the USA, which takes place against New England Revolution on Wednesday, the Irishman recently toldESPNsoccernet of his belief that, when the real games begin, the team from Manchester's blue half will be the one to watch.He said: "For the title, I think Manchester City will be a huge threat, particularly if they hang on to (Carlos) Tevez and sign a couple of quality players as well. They are getting better, the noisy neighbours, and it is going to be very interesting in Manchester next year."

United's visit to North America in 2010 saw the debuts in red of two hitherto unproven youngsters. One year on, Chris Smalling has emerged as an able deputy for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, while Javier Hernandez has established himself as a first-choice following a 20-goal debut season in England.

Irwin agrees with the comparisons which have been drawn between Herna

ndez and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but adds that he sees the qualities of another of his former teammates in the Mexican.

"I'd compare him to (Andrew) Cole as well. He was such a quick player who made a lot of his own chances because of how fast he was. I think Hernandez is very much like that as well, he is a really rapid player," Irwin explained.

"He is like Ole too, in that he looks to play off the shoulder of the last defender and he knows where the goal is. Ole was a fantastic student of the game while Coley scored some great goals for us so a combination of both those players is really a plus."

Smalling and Hernandez have been joined by David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young as Sir Alex Ferguson continues to reshape his squad. As youth comes into Old Trafford, a number of experienced faces have left the club and there has been speculation that another, Dimitar Berbatov, may also be sold.

However, despite the omission of the Premier League's joint top-scorer from the matchday squad for the Champions League final, Irwin expects the Bulgarian to remain in Ferguson's plans."I know (Berbatov) didn't get much playing time in the last three of four months of the season but he is a very important player for United. You can't just go moving out players willy-nilly. He is a fantastic player and I expect him to stay," said Irwin.

Retirements will deprive United of two of this season's title-winners. Paul Scholes has hung up his boots after 676 matches and will now take on a coaching role with the club. Meanwhile, Irwin compares the task of replacing Edwin van der Sar with that of finding a successor to Peter Schmeichel in 1999, after which a number of goalkeepers were given a chance to claim the number one shirt, with varying degrees of success.

Irwin said:"It's going to be very hard, very, very hard. I remember too well. Big Pete was a monster of a keeper for us. When you get a back four or back five that play so often together, they develop a great understanding. In our case, we knew what he would do on crosses, he was a fantastic shot-stopper.

"Van der Sar had an unbelievably good six seasons at United. He was great with both feet and made very few mistakes which is what you want. He had very good concentration levels as well. Sometimes at United you only have to make one or two saves every game but they are important ones."

One veteran who will continue for at least one more season is Ryan Giggs and Irwin is impressed with the way the veteran Welshman has evolved as a player since he made his debut as a 17-year-old substitute in March 1991.

"He actually came on for me against Everton - it's a long time ago! To play for this club at the highest level for 20 years is some achievement. He was a left winger and then had to kind of reinvent himself a little bit," reflected Irwin.

"The game has got quicker and more physical with bigger players but he has shown he can play off the front man or in central midfield. He played left-back at West Ham (in April) so it just shows the ability he has got."

United's 19th title took the club past Liverpool into first place on the list of English champions. However, hopes of a fourth European Cup triumph were dashed by Barcelona at Wembley."We had such a good season," said Irwin. "We won the league by nine points and our home record was great but we came up against a Barcelona team that is probably the best I have seen of any teams, certainly in my day. You just have to look at the names: (Andres) Iniesta, (David) Villa, Xavi, (Lionel) Messi. We got well beaten on the night and I think everybody has held their hands up and said they were much better."

Irwin concedes that the current Barcelona side is playing at a level 'it might take two or three years' to reach. He also admits that the two great United teams for which he played would have taken very different approaches to stopping Pep Guardiola's men.

He said: "The 1994 team, had we played them, would have tried to kick them! The game was different then and we had some tough players: (Roy) Keane, (Paul) Ince, (Steve) Bruce, (Gary) Pallister. Paul Parker was a fantastic man-marker so maybe he could have taken Messi. With Giggs and Kanchelskis we had a lot of good pace as well to go with the tough lads.

"The 1999 side was very attacking. We won the European Cup final despite our two best players not playing. So it's very difficult for me to say but, certainly, if we had played Barcelona in 1994, we would have tried to kick them!"

Catching Barcelona is one of the greatest challenges faced by Ferguson, who will celebrate 25 years as United manager in November. The Scot turns 70 the following month but Irwin is in no doubt that his old boss is ready to take on the test.

"(Ferguson) leads the club by example," reflected Irwin. "He's first into training, his desire and hunger are there to see and, if any player doesn't match that, he will soon on his way. When the players come in for pre-season, he will spell out what is expected of them.

"It's a winning mentality and all of that comes from the manager. His man-management is great and he is steeped in football knowledge as well but it is his determination and desire to win trophy after trophy after trophy every year that comes back every pre-season."

After New England, United face MLS clubs from Seattle and Chicago, followed by the league's all-stars in New Jersey. The tour ends on July 30 with a friendly against Barcelona on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The encounter will provide another reminder of the benchmark set by the Catalan giants, one which Ferguson will hope to reach in Munich next May.

Before then, domestic duty will take priority for the champions and, while Irwin does not rule out Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool from a title race he believes could the tightest in years, of all the pretenders to Manchester United's throne, it is their cross-city rivals who represent the biggest danger.

Credit to Soccernet.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ferguson: No Nasri deal for United

Manchester United's pursuit of Arsenal's Samir Nasri looks to be at an end after Sir Alex Ferguson said he thought the Frenchman had "agreed to go elsewhere".

Speaking in Boston as United begin their three-week tour of the United States, Ferguson was asked at a press conference about a player for whom his club are reported to have made an offer.

"Nasri, no. I don't think he's coming to United," said Ferguson. "I think he's agreed to go somewhere else. Maybe he has to stay at Arsenal too. That's a possibility."

Ferguson was guarded on a next signing to follow those of Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones, with midfield largely expected to be the next reinforced department following the retirement of Paul Scholes.

"How do you replace somebody like Paul Scholes? It's very difficult," said Ferguson of a player who is set to join his coaching staff after his testimonial.

"If you bracket four of the best midfield players in the world he'd be alongside Xavi and Iniesta and then you take your pick. In my mind he's one of the top four players in the world. How will we overcome it? Maybe the next few weeks will help us overcome it. Maybe somebody will emerge out of the youth team or one of the young players ermerge, and then we carry on."

Luka Modric, most likely headed for Chelsea, and Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder are the midfield names also linked with a move to Old Trafford. Owen Hargreaves has taken his leave of the club and Darren Fletcher has missed the current tour, as his recovery from a virus that wrecked his 2010-11 season is still by no means complete.

United face New England Revolution on Wednesday, in a game that Ferguson promised he would not be taking lightly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Manchester United Nani backs Villas-Boas move

Manchester United winger Nani has applauded new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas for making the switch from the Portuguese Primeira Liga to the English Premier League.

Nani, 24, made the leap from Sporting to United in 2007 and has not looked back, making 95 appearances in his four seasons at the Red Devils. The winger has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford this summer after United signed Ashley Young from Aston Villa, but the Portugal international has stated that he is willing to stay and fight for his position.

Villas-Boas was appointed Chelsea boss after guiding Porto to an impressive domestic league, Supercup and Europa League treble last campaign. This success, Nani believes, has earned his compatriot the right to guide one of the Premier League's powerhouse clubs.

"Villas-Boas did well to trade the Portuguese League for the Premier League. Chelsea is an excellent club, it is fair to try his luck because it is always a dream job," Nani told SIC.

"I understand Villas-Boas, it is always a difficult decision to leave the club who are in your heart."

Meanwhile, former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has pinpointed Chelsea and Manchester City as the club's greatest threats in their attempt to claim a 20th Premier League crown. Van der Sar cited a lack of stability as potential insurmountable hurdles for Arsenal and Liverpool.

He told ESPN Star Sports and Asia One: "Liverpool will be really motivated to try and win the league. They will be anxious to try and overtake our 19th title, but I don't think that's going to happen.

"Arsenal, at the moment, are a little in limbo because some players are going to leave. They have issues of strengthening key areas and convincing players to stay.

"It's going to be Chelsea again, they are always going to be challenging. Maybe Manchester City will be there, although they may have some trouble convincing Carlos Tevez to stay."

Credit to Soccernet

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