The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Petr Cech possible Barthez successor

Petr Cech, the Czech Republic goalkeeper, has been identified by Sir Alex Ferguson as a possible successor to Fabien Barthez after the French international was humiliatingly dropped for Manchester Unitedís crucial Premiership victory over Tottenham on Sunday.

The search for a new first-choice goalkeeper at Old Trafford has become more serious during the season as Barthez has become increasingly uncertain about his future plans and coaching staff have been unwilling to promote the inconsistent Ricardo above Roy Carroll.

Cech, 20, who plays for Rennes, has caught the eye of the United scouts who have been watching the French clubís left-back Julien Escude ó the subject of a failed bid last summer. With Leeds holding out on a £7 million valuation of Paul Robinson, United see Cech as a cheaper alternative.

Now a full international, Cech starred in the Czech Republicís victorious European Under-21 Championship team this summer with two saves in a penalty shoot-out defeat of France. Despite interest from Arsenal and Lazio, he was bought from Sparta Prague by Rennes for £3 million.

Cech made his debut for the Czech Republic senior team against Cyprus in February 2002 and broke a record in his home country with a 1,120-minute sequence that took in domestic, Champions League and Under-21 matches.

With Arsenal the favourites to sign the Turkish international Rustu Recber on a free transfer this summer, Ferguson is also understood to have looked at Southamptonís Antti Niemi and the Nantes No. 1 Mickael Landreau.

Meanwhile, the new Paris St Germain president Francis Graille has pledged not to sell Brazilís Ronaldinho ó another of Unitedís summer transfer targets ó as the French club wrestle with reported debts of more than £100 million.

Graille said he would do everything he could to keep Ronaldinho, 23, for another season.

ďIt will be my first priority to put forward the arguments to Ronaldinho that he must stay at PSG,Ē Graille said.

The financial problems that the French side, owned by the media company Canal Plus, are experiencing have convinced United that they can prise Ronaldinho away for about £10 million.

The Brazilian has been a favourite of former president Laurent Perpere, sacked this weekend, who consistently defended him despite a serious rift with the PSG coach Luis Fernandez.

Perpere stood by Ronaldinho this season when he angered the coach by inviting a girlfriend back to the team hotel before a match.

When Ronaldinho was substituted against Nantes last week, he exchanged angry words with Fernandez on the touchline and has since refused to comment on speculation surrounding his future despite his side reaching the French cup final.

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