Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ribéry riddle to rumble on

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has set aside a large proportion of the world-record £80m fee to be received for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid by making an offer for France playmaker Franck Ribéry, according to Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Real have also enquired about the 26-year-old's availability, but, Rummenigge claims, Chelsea and Barcelona have stolen a march by joining the Premier League title-winners in making offers for the in-demand forward.

The former Germany international, speaking in an interview with Bild newspaper, said: "Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez and his advisor Pedro Jiménez asked if we were willing to speak with them over a transfer but we rejected the chance and we have no intention of selling Ribéry."

Asked if Spain's big-spending capital club made an offer, he replied: "No but other clubs have done. Chelsea have lodged a bid, as have Manchester United and Barcelona. We are completely relaxed about it. The power lies with Bayern Munich."

Old Trafford officials have maintained a diplomatic silence on their attempts to recruit Bayern's most saleable asset, but it is safe to suggest Ferguson, who is on holiday in the south of France, is keen to bolster his attacking options.

United want the transfer of Ronaldo to Spain rubber-stamped by June 30 and uncertainty over the future of Carlos Tevez, who is wanted by neighbours City, leaves Ferguson with potentially two large holes to fill.

Bayern have repeatedly insisted Ribéry is not for sale and maintain he will see out his contract, which runs until 2011, so Ferguson may decide Antonio Valencia of Wigan is a more viable option.

DW Stadium chairman Dave Whelan revealed: "They (United) have been in touch with us and we will be starting negotiations very shortly, I would imagine. United have been in touch with us over Antonio for the last two or three months, expressing an interest and actually putting cash offers on the table."

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