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"An agreement must be found between the two clubs"
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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Barthez delays French return
Fabien Barthez completed his medical on Tuesday
Fabien Barthez has delayed his return to France's Euro 2000 squad in a bid to tie up a move to Manchester United.

The World Cup winner has extended two days of talks at Old Trafford after failing to agree personal terms.

But both parties remain confident that Barthez will link up with his French team-mates as a Manchester United player.

Old Trafford spokesman Ken Ramsden said: "The talks took longer than planned and Barthez got special permission from the French FA to stay on in Manchester for one more day.

The point is that we will be able to resume talks and by the end of the day he will be a Manchester United player, rather than flying home with the talks inconclusive.

"With Francve having more matches and Euro 2000 coming up, the whole thing could have dragged on," added Ramsden.

Barthez is needed back with the French squad for the June 4 game with Japan in Casablanca, with a second match in the African city planned two days later.

Fabien is an outstanding goalkeeper - but we also need a little bit more

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
The Frenchman was taken to the Alexandra private hospital in Cheadle and returned to Old Trafford for further tests.

The transfer fee is estimated to be between 8m and 10m - a world record for a goalkeeper - and Barthez has reportedly agreed a six-year contract worth 45,000-a-week.

Is Peter Schmeichel irreplaceable?
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "The first thing which attracted me to Fabien is that he is an outstanding goalkeeper. But after Peter Schmeichel we needed a little bit more than that.

"Peter had a great presence and a wonderful personality which rubbed off on the rest of the team.

"Mark Bosnich and Raimond van der Gouw are both terrific goalkeepers - but neither have quite the personality which Schmeichel possessed.

"But Fabien has. He is a real character. He's bouncy and bubbly, just like Schmeichel was, and hopefully he is going to have a similar influence on the rest of the team."

Bosnich problems

When Schmeichel quit United last summer Ferguson almost captured the flamboyant Barthez then only for the deal to collapse.

There are no worries about Barthez's fitness

Sir Alex Ferguson
He instead signed Bosnich, who has had a difficult season and whose future must now be in grave doubt.

Certainly on the way out is Italian Massimo Taibi, shipped back home on loan with Reggina after a catalogue of embarrassing mistakes following his 4.5m move from Venezia.

Massimo Taibi's move to Old Trafford was short-lived
United finished the season with the dependable van der Gouw in goal. But the Dutchman is approaching the end of his career, and there was a clear need for a more reliable goalkeeper than Bosnich or Taibi turned out to be.

Ferguson had hoped to keep details of Barthez's transfer under wraps until the goalkeeper had completed his medical tests.

He was desperate to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment he suffered when Ruud van Nistelrooy's 18m move from PSV Eindhoven was called off after the striker failed his medical.

The United boss said: "Medicals these days are very thorough because of the amount of money involved.

"But there are no worries about Barthez's fitness, and I am confident we will be given the go-ahead by the doctors to complete the transfer."

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See also:

24 May 00 | Spain
Man Utd linked with Canizares
28 May 00 | France
French fire warning shot
14 May 00 | Squad
Fabien Barthez
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