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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Stam move 'down to cash'
Alex Ferguson and Laurent Blanc at a press conference
Ferguson signed Blanc at the fourth attempt
Sir Alex Ferguson claims his costly summer acquisitions influenced his decision to sell Jaap Stam to Lazio.

Manchester United invested a massive 47.1m on Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron.

Ferguson said when Lazio offered 16.5m for 29-year-old Stam, the offer was too good to refuse.

"We have a massive wage bill, it has to be said," the Scot told the Mail on Sunday.

I will go back to Manchester in the next few days to shake hands with the boys
Jaap Stam

"We have spent a lot of money this summer and obviously there was no more available.

"This, though, was a decision I just felt I had to carry through.

"For me to bring (Laurent) Blanc to this club, I had to make some movement."

Ferguson has been a long-time admirer of Blanc, failing on three separate occasions to tempt the French international to Old Trafford.

So when the opportunity arose to finally sign the 36-year-old from Inter Milan, Ferguson immediately seized upon it.

"When I heard Blanc wanted away from Inter Milan, roughly two weeks ago, that was it," he said.

"No-one else came in the frame. He is the defender I think can organise things for this team.

"I believe he can help and enhance the progress of Wes Brown.

Jaap Stam in a Lazio shirt
Stam: No bad blood with ex-team-mates
"I also think he gives us that presence, that bit of big-game experience which at times we have shown to be lacking."

Stam's controversial autobiography has hogged the headlines as much as his sudden move to Rome.

But despite his acrimonious departure, the Dutch international insists he has no ill-feeling towards his former team-mates.

"I do know that a few people at United who have actually read my book have said there is nothing wrong with what I wrote," he said.

"They have been very supportive. I will go back to Manchester in the next few days to shake hands with the boys and say goodbye to them in a personal way."

Stam's sentiments were backed by club captain Roy Keane.

"People shouldn't believe some of the stories going round," said the Republic of Ireland international.

"I had no problems with Jaap, he's a very nice lad and he was popular with the other players.

"But I have too much respect for Sir Alex Ferguson to worry about his departure. He is the manager and he makes the decisions."

See also:

27 Aug 01 |  Man Utd
Blanc cools Man Utd talk
23 Aug 01 |  Football
Red faces at the back
19 Aug 01 |  Eng Prem
Ferguson's fears
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