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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Man Utd confirm Barthez signing
Premiership champions Manchester United have announced the signing of French international Fabien Barthez from Monaco for £7.8m - a British record for a goalkeeper.
The 28-year-old player, who was a stalwart of the French World Cup-winning side in 1998, has agreed a six-year-deal and will arrive at Old Trafford with the task of following in the footsteps of Man Utd legend Peter Schmeichel.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson believes Barthez has the necessary character and class to be a worthy successor to the great Dane and the Frenchman is relishing the challenge.
Barthez said: "Schmeichel was a great, great goalkeeper and he played here for a very long time.
"I need to be strong but I don't find it daunting. I have played in a World Cup final and Champions League final before and nothing troubles me.
"I'm here to win and stay a long, long time and I'm so, so happy to sign a six-year deal.
"Everybody knows Manchester United are the big club, the big team and are very impressive."
Barthez is the third goalkeeper to be signed for the club since Schmeichel left after the club's Champions League victory at the end of the 1998-1999 season to play for Sporting Lisbon.
Neither Mark Bosnich, who was signed on a free transfer from Aston Villa, or Massimo Taibi, who arrived from Veneziana but is now on loan with Reggina, were able to make sufficient impact to make the Number One shirt their own.
Bosnich, who struggled with injury in the opening months, lost his place to the veteran understudy Raimond van der Gouw, toward the end of the season.
Barthez admitted he thought his chances of signing for United had gone when his club ruled out a switch to Old Trafford last summer.
"Last year I spoke with my president at Monaco and he told me I was staying with them for four years.
"Last week he said the same thing and I was very sad but when I found out I could talk to United this week it was an easy decision to make. I was enormously flattered.
"I spoke to Thierry Henry at Arsenal and he told me it's fantastic to play in the Premiership.
"It is tougher in England but now the long ball game is finished it's great to play here."
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson spoke glowingly of his latest acquisition, saying: "I'm delighted that Fabien has joined us for apart from his obvious goalkeeping skills, he has the personality to play on the biggest stage.
"It's an area in which Peter Schmeichel excelled, for he too had a great personality.
"Fabien is a World Cup winner and has not only the personality but the vast experience that is required at Manchester United."
Barthez is needed back with the French squad for the 4 June game with Japan in Casablanca, and a second match in the African city planned two days later.
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