Football: United make Roa top target

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MANCHESTER UNITED are to make a pounds 6m move to sign the Argentinian international goalkeeper Carlos Roa to fill Peter Schmeichel's gloves.

United's manager, Alex Ferguson, has decided that the South American, whose form has been one of the principal factors behind Real Mallorca's unexpected challenge for the Spanish title, is the man for the job of replacing the Dane.

Ferguson was impressed with Roa in the World Cup finals, when he became a national hero for saving David Batty's penalty and putting England out of the competition. United's scouts have been regular visitors to Mallorca's matches for the past couple of months since Schmeichel announced his retirement, and every report has been good.

Ferguson's brother Martin, the club's chief European scout, also saw Roa in top form as Mallorca beat Real Madrid last weekend to continue their challenge for the championship. Contact has now been made with Roa's agents and with the Spanish club about a summer move for the 28- year-old goalkeeper.

Mallorca will not sell now - and United are willing to wait - as they have the chance of domestic honours and the European Cup-Winners' Cup, in which they are in the last eight along with Chelsea. However, a deal should go through in the summer. Roa would need to apply for a work permit, but as Argentina's regular No 1 that should be no problem.

Roa is big, brave and athletic. His age is ideal for a goalkeeper and he would play his peak years at Old Trafford. The only drawback is that he speaks little English. News that he is United's choice might also boost Schmeichel. His form dipped so dramatically that Ferguson thought about signing a new goalkeeper sooner rather than later.

Schmeichel may be rested for United's trip to Leicester on Saturday. He returned to Old Trafford this week after his holiday in Barbados, and Ferguson has hinted that he may continue with his second-choice goalkeeper, Raimond van der Gouw, at Filbert Street.

Ferguson intends to check if Schmeichel is physically and mentally right to return. The manager claimed after Sunday's victory over West Ham that the rest periods for his World Cup men were over, but he may allow the Dane another match off.

"We will wait and see," said Ferguson. "We will see how much Peter has enjoyed himself while he was away."

United have let their 21-year-old Norwegian striker Erik Nevland join the Swedish club, IFK Gothenburg, on loan for the Scandinavian summer season.