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Man Utd spokesman Patrick Harveson
"We have not signed Juan Veron"
 real 14k

Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Veron-United plot thickens
Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron: Fee would smash British transfer record
Manchester United have not given up hope of acquiring Lazio midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, despite reports the Argentine star is not interested in the move.

Veron was rumoured to be on the verge of a British record 22m move to Old Trafford from Lazio.

But the Argentine international midfielder insists that reports in the British and Italian press on Friday are well wide of the mark.

"The rumours of me being close to a move to Manchester United? None of them are true," Veron told Italy's Gazzetta Online.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson was keen to strengthen his midfield

The player's involvement in Italy's passports scandal appears to have played a major part in at least postponing the proposed move.

Lazio have been dogged by allegations that forged documents enabled them to obtain an Italian passport for Veron, allowing him to play as a European-registered player.

Veron blames Lazio for the row and has protested his innocence. He insisted he wanted to leave the club, but is now resigned to staying put for the forseeable future.

However, it is believed that the Premiership champions would still be interested, depending on the length of any ban he receives.

Veron is accused of possessing papers which falsely claim he has Italian ancestry.

And Fifa confirmed he would receive a worldwide ban from football if the Italian federal prosecutor - acting on behalf of the Italian FA - rules against him.

This has ruined my image - I will not accept these things
  Juan Sebastian Veron

Fifa spokesman Andreas Herren said: "The Fifa Executive Committee met last Wednesday to discuss in principle the extension of bans for doping, match rigging and false passports.

"In this case, if there is formalisation of a ban by the Italian FA, then the ban would be extended to a worldwide level."

Veron attended the Italian Football League disciplinary hearing in Milan on Friday and afterwards continued to protest his innocence.

Two-year ban recommended

Veron, also due to appear in an Italian court on 11 October, added: "I am here to understand fully what has happened given it has ruined my image.

"I will not accept these things."

But Veron appears to have little cause for hope. Earlier this week, the federal prosecutor recommended a two-year ban for Inter's Uruguayan star Alvaro Recoba, AC's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida, former Roma stars Fabio Junior and Gustavo Bartelt, and Vicenza's Jeda e Dedh.

The formal sentencing takes place between Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Fifa's extension of bans reflects their policy on failed drugs tests. Holland international midfielder Edgar Davids and Portugal captain Fernando Couto both recently returning positive tests for nandrolone and receiving year-long bans from the Italian FA.

Fifa subsequently extended the sanctions to cover footballing activities worldwide.

Meanwhile, another United transfer target, Lilian Thuram, has joined Juventus instead.

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See also:

15 Jun 01 |  Man Utd
Why Man Utd need Veron
02 May 01 |  Europe
Real Madrid target Veron
08 May 01 |  Europe
Lazio hit with passport charges
15 Jun 01 |  Football
Fergie backs Goram's staying power
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