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I never made United comments, claims Ayala

Wednesday 23rd January 2002

Valencia star Fabian Ayala has accused an English newspaper of inventing quotes suggesting he was eager to join Manchester United. "Ask the journalist who wrote the story why he did it, don't ask me," snapped the Argentina defender.

The News of the World claim Ayala said: "United are interested in me and I am very interested in joining them. It is up to the clubs now.

"My agent had an offer in his hand faxed from United in the summer but Valencia would not let me leave. That offer was a good one and I am told the offer still stands. I can do nothing until Valencia agree to sell, but I love the idea."

Ayala's agent Fernando Hidalgo did indeed reveal in June that an official approach had been made by United to Valencia, which the Spaniards declined.

The affair re-emerged as Sir Alex Ferguson's side struggled defensively at the start of the season, particularly after Jaap Stam had been sold to Lazio.

But Valencia have repeatedly stated that they do not wish to sell Ayala, who remains a key figure in coach Rafael Benitez's plans. Club president Jaime Orti recently told onefootball.com that United would need to pay £23 million to prise him away.

Ayala, 28, was instrumental in Valencia's run to the Champions' League final last season after signing for the Ches from AC Milan in the summer of 2000.

Meanwhile, his Valencia team-mate Kily Gonzalez has refuted claims that he could soon join Atletico Madrid.

Gonzalez's agent Marcelo Lombilla has reportedly held a number of meetings with Atletico officials, but the midfielder insisted on Wednesday that there was no substance to the story.

"It is all a lie and I will clear up the situation during the week," he said.

Valencia have indicated that Kily Gonzalez is no longer an integral part of their plans. The Spanish club tried to include him in the summer 2001 deal that took Gaizka Mendieta to Lazio.
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