Cristiano Ronaldo is back home in Portugal after being given a winter break by Manchester United. The teenager needs a rest, Sir Alex Ferguson said yesterday, and will not return for three weeks, by which time the champions hope Louis Saha and Dong Fangzhou will have joined him on the payroll.
Ferguson revealed that the 19-year-old's break was arranged when he concluded the £12.2m signing from Sporting Lisbon in July. Ronaldo has started 11 matches this season and played, on average, 40 minutes a game, but Ferguson is mindful of placing too much responsibility on the winger. "We were always going to give him a holiday," Ferguson said. "It was just a matter of deciding when."
The United manager and the chief executive David Gill are now working to strengthen United's attacking options. Dong, an 18-year-old striker with the Chinese side Dalian Shide, is seen as a star of the future but Ferguson believes Saha could have an immediate impact and Gill is putting together a bid of around £7m.
United are braced for an aggressive reaction from Fulham, who described United's initial £5.5m offer as "unwelcome and unsolicited" and who value Saha above £10m. The London club want to keep their most prolific striker but Saha is desperate to join the country's biggest club.
Ferguson was more forthcoming on some of the players United are "definitely not" signing. Arjen Robben of PSV is one and a move for Anderlecht's Vincent Kompany was also dismissed. "Anyone who has played in the Uefa Cup or the Champions League is out of the equation," said Ferguson. "We'd like someone who can play for us in Europe."
Jermain Defoe of West Ham fits the criteria, as do Alan Smith and Mark Viduka of Leeds, but Defoe might not be good enough to trouble Europe's most accomplished defenders yet while prising players away from Leeds is not as simple as many believe.
Leeds already have debts totalling £80m and the gist of the acting chairman Trevor Birch's AGM address was that selling Viduka for £3.5m would not drastically ease the financial difficulties but would make it considerably harder to stay in the Premiership.
Dong's £1.5m switch should be far simpler. "We're getting closer," said Ferguson. "There's just some documentation to finalise." United tour China next year and the club are bound to face accusations of trying to exploit the market.
Sending him on loan to PSV then? That doesnt make any sense for me.... Then we could also buy him in July.Wally said:Is Fergie reeally going to get him already this month you think?
Reports here say that you'll send him on loan to PSV when you buy him I don't see anything in that since he'll need to adapt to the English game.
IMO Robben is more developed than Ronaldo. You'll enjoy seeing him play