The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sir Alex happy for Barthez

Manchester: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will allow France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez to return to Olympique Marseille to prevent his career from coming to a standstill.

Ferguson has sanctioned a loan deal, which is set go ahead subjected to ratification from Fifa, after installing Tim Howard as his first-choice goalkeeper at Old Trafford.

“The reason that I was happy to let the move go through, bearing in mind it leaves me with just the two experienced goalkeepers, is that in fairness to Fabien, the longer he’s going to be at Manchester without getting a game is going to be a problem for him,” Ferguson said on Friday.

“He’s got to speak to Marseille. We’ve progressed a situation which they approached us (about) a couple of days ago. There are just one or two things to be ironed out.

“He (Barthez) is a terrific goalkeeper, one of the best in the world, but just by opportunity Tim Howard has taken the number one. Roy Carroll has done nothing wrong so therefore I am being fair all round to everyone.

“Fabien understood that, but it’s not easy, and that’s why I’m happy for him to get his opportunity at Marseilles and hopefully he will do very well.”

Ferguson signed Barthez, 32, from Monaco for a world record fee of £7.8 million ($13.06 million) in 2000.

He twice helped United win the Premier League title but lost his place this season following the £2.3 million signing of United States international Howard from New York MetroStars.

“When we signed Tim we did think he was going to challenge for the position, we didn’t think he was going be as good. He has been absolutely outstanding since he came to the club,” Ferguson added.

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