Football: Keane turns down new United deal

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The Independent Online
ROY KEANE has refused Manchester United's first offer of an extended contract and has repeated his threat to leave unless the club meet his terms.

Keane has revealed that United made their first offer towards the end of last month and that he turned it down because it was not good enough. The 27-year-old United captain is now waiting for the club to come back with an improved offer.

Keane has one year left on his present contract and knows he could walk out of Old Trafford next summer with a highly lucrative free transfer under the Bosman ruling. The Republic of Ireland midfielder insists he is not being greedy and that he just wants what he feels he is worth in today's market.

"If the new contract is not right then I won't sign it. I won't undersell myself. I would think that this is my last big contract so it has got to be right," he said. "I turned down the first offer a few weeks ago because it wasn't right. I felt we were quite a bit apart and so the ball is now in the club's court.

"Even though I am United's captain, have moved into a new house and my family are settled here, I won't sign a deal I am not happy with. If it isn't sorted out I will have to look at the bigger picture and I would be prepared to go. That's not a threat, that's just life.

"By saying that I am not trying to hold the club to ransom. I'm not arrogant enough or stupid enough to think that Manchester United will break the bank to keep me. I know they have their limits. The club won't just give me something if it is not right for them as well."

Keane is reported to want pounds 2m a season, which would break United's salary structure. This they are unwilling to do.

Keane is out of action after suffering a recurrence of his ankle injury and although he looks likely to miss the Charity Shield against Arsenal on 1 August, he said he should be back for the start of United's Premiership campaign a week later.

Meanwhile, Denis Irwin will captain United in Keane's absence in their first pre-season tour match against Australia in Melbourne today. Mark Bosnich will make his first appearance for United since rejoining the club last month on a free transfer from Aston Villa.

Martin Edwards, the United chairman, admitted that the four-match tour of Australia and China would help the treble winners expand their appeal to new markets. "We always try to expand. We make no secret of that," said Edwards at the start of United's first tour of Australia in 15 years.

Australia's Woolmark company have signed an agreement with United and their sportswear suppliers, Umbro, to market a new fabric for the club's shirts for the 2000-2001 season.

Ipswich's England prospect Kieron Dyer is in talks with Newcastle about a pounds 6m transfer after a fee was agreed with Ipswich. The versatile Dyer is also being pursued by Middlesbrough and Leeds, but is on the point of signing for the Geordies.

Dyer would become the fourth new player at Newcastle this summer and Spanish midfielder Ivan de la Pena should follow in the next few days. Lazio have made him available and a pounds 6m deal is close although a one-year loan is possible.

Gullit will then be able to move out two of his old squad, Dietmar Hamann and Nolberto Solano. Hamann has been allowed to talk to Liverpool about an pounds 8m move, while Peruvian Solano is a target for both Celtic and Valencia. He would fetch around pounds 2.5m.

Fulham hope to make Arsenal's transfer-listed Stephen Hughes their next big money signing in a pounds 2.75m deal today.