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Old 31st May 2007, 08:44   #1
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Default United to splash £35m on Nani and Anderson

United to splash £35m on Nani and Anderson

Dominic Fifield
Thursday May 31, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Manchester United last night delivered a stunning statement of their intent to retain the Premiership title next season by potentially taking their summer outlay beyond the £50m mark after moving swiftly to agree deals in principle to sign the Sporting Lisbon winger Nani and Porto's Anderson, two of the most coveted rising talents in Portugal.

A delegation from United, led by the chief executive, David Gill, and the assistant manager, Carlos Queiroz, spent yesterday in Lisbon in formal talks with officials from the Portuguese clubs, with agreements smoothed out with both before being outlined publicly late last night.

According to the selling clubs, the total fees to secure Nani, 20, and Anderson, an 18-year-old Brazilian winger, could rise to as much €50m (£35m) with appearances and honours over the course of their contracts which, allied with Owen Hargreaves' imminent arrival from Bayern Munich for £17m, represents the most lavish spending of the Glazer era at Old Trafford to date. United's initial outlay to buy the pair from Portugal is more likely to be around £15m.

The trio of signings will send shockwaves through the Premiership. While Chelsea could match such financial clout if they desired, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool and Arsenal can match such spending power. Indeed, not since Wayne Rooney's arrival in the autumn of 2004 for an initial £20m have United spent this much to refresh their playing squad.

The implications for the chasing pack may be grim, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be celebrating something of a coup in the market. Nani, a long-standing target for United, had made his intentions clear to seek a new challenge having rejected the opportunity to extend his current contract at Sporting. The Premiership champions faced a second struggle with Tottenham Hotspur to secure his signature but, where they lost out to the Londoners over the £10m Wales international Gareth Bale last week, they moved quickly yesterday to ensure they did not endure similar disappointment over Nani.

The winger has been bought as a long-term successor to Ryan Giggs, who retired from international football yesterday, and is happiest operating down the left, with the 20-year-old keen to emulate his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at Old Trafford. Sporting had hoped to persuade Ferguson to allow Nani to remain at the club on loan next season. The youngster is considered the most exciting homegrown forward to have emerged in Portugal since Ronaldo, with Sporting only reluctantly conceding they could not keep him. "Going to England is an attractive option for me because the Premiership is one of the best leagues in the world and it would be a good challenge," said Nani last week. "I believe I would progress there."

The move for Anderson, tracked by Real Madrid and Chelsea, came as more of a surprise, not least for the speed at which the deal was completed. The Brazilian will require a work permit but has long been considered an imposing talent for the future. The winger was crowned player of the tournament in the 2005 under-17 world championship and has been named by the national coach, Dunga, in a preliminary squad for this summer's Copa América. The pair's arrival should ease the burden placed on Paul Scholes and Giggs, both entering the twilight of their careers, over the next few years.

All being well with their medicals, the pair will join Hargreaves, currently back in Canada, to be unveiled next week, with United's spending unlikely to end there. Gabriel Heinze, the Argentina left-back, is expected to leave in the close season with Ferguson keen to find extra cover at full-back to support Patrice Evra.

Stars in the making


The 20-year-old made his first-team debut for Sporting aged 18 and played in all six of the club's Champions League group games last season, scoring against Spartak Moscow. Made his Portugal debut in September last year.


Like his countryman Ronaldinho, Anderson came through the ranks at Gremio. Won the player of the tournament award at the Fifa under-17 world championship in 2005 and has been named in Brazil's squad for the forthcoming Copa America.,00.html
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