The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ronaldinho closer to United

Manchester United were on the brink of signing Ronaldinho on Thursday after it was revealed for the first time that the Brazilian striker preferred the Premiership champions over proposed moves to Barcelona or Chelsea.

The player’s agent and brother, Roberto Assis, said the transfer would go through once the clubs had agreed a fee. Assis said: “Ronaldinho wants to go to Manchester United, so at the moment it’s just a question of waiting for the deal to be completed.

“I have to talk with the PSG president, Francis Graille, because Ronaldinho wants the situation concluded. We are working towards that and now it’s just a question of timing.”

The announcement came as details emerged of Barcelona’s proposed offer. The club would also offer players to make up the shortfall in their own troubled finances, which are believed to include debts of £120 million.

Barcelona have offered PSG Juan Riquelme as well as either French defender Philippe Christanval or the midfielder Gerard as well as around £20 million, while United could pay as much as £26 million, depending on Ronaldinho’s performance.

Graille has doggedly refused to accept the sale of Ronaldinho and, after signing the Portugal international Pauleta from Bordeaux, also claimed that a gift of £15 million from owners Canal Plus had put the club on a more sure financial footing.

However, the withdrawal from the bidding of Real Madrid, who had offered to buy Ronaldinho and loan him back to PSG for a season, has added greater urgency to the transfer process.

United’s Michael Stewart, has accepted an invitation to join Nottingham Forest on their pre-season tour, which means that the new signing from Cameroon, Eric Djemba Djemba, will wear the No. 17 shirt in honour of the late Marc-Vivien Foe.

Midfielder Luke Chadwick, who was on loan to Reading at the end of last season, has joined Burnley on a season-long deal. Arsenal have had a £10 million bid for striker Jose Antonio Reyes rejected by Seville. Rangers defender Lorenzo Amoruso will finally complete his £1.4 million move to Blackburn on Saturday.

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