Football: United's 3.75m pounds deal for Keane

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MANCHESTER UNITED have reached an agreement with Nottingham Forest to buy Roy Keane for pounds 3.75m - a record between English clubs.

The 21-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder, who cost Forest only pounds 10,000 from Cobh Ramblers three years ago, will join the Premier League champions in time for their tour to South Africa next week.

Blackburn Rovers - frustrated admirers of Keane - may have better luck with Neil Ruddock, Tottenham Hotspur's transfer-seeking centre- half. After failing with bids of pounds 1.75m and pounds 2m, the Ewood Park club have raised their offer to pounds 2.4m, a figure closer to Spurs' pounds 2.7m estimation.

Ruddock voiced his desire to leave White Hart Lane after his mentor, Terry Venables, was ousted as chief executive by Alan Sugar, the Spurs chairman. Ossie Ardiles, brought in as manager after Venables' unsuccessful High Court action, tried to change Ruddock's mind, but the Wandsworth-born stopper insisted on cutting all ties with the club who paid pounds 750,000 for his inspirational services 14 months ago.

An exit to Ewood would take him from Alan Sugar to Alan Shearer, a close friend and former Southampton colleague who is godfather to one of Ruddock's children.

One transfer finally completed yesterday involved the former Spurs striker, Phil Gray, who has left Luton for Sunderland in an pounds 800,000 deal.

Ryan Giggs has also finalised a financially alluring deal, Manchester United's 19-year-old winger signing a pounds 2,000-a-week, three-year contract to wear Reebok boots. Sporting Pumas last season, Giggs managed 11 goals for United, second only to Mark Hughes.

Milan, one of a posse of Italian clubs tracking Giggs's remarkable development, began adapting to a post-Gullit world by signing Brian Laudrup on a year's loan from relegated Fiorentina. The skilful Dane, a masterful dribbler, is expected to fill the right-sided berth vacated by the ageing Sampdoria-bound Dutchman.

Marseille, one factor behind the break-up of Milan's Dutch triumvirate, have encountered nothing but controversy since their European Cup triumph. Yesterday, the French Justice Minister, Pierre Mehaignerie, filed a libel suit against the club's president, Bernard Tapie, for comparing the tactics of justice officials looking into an alleged match-fixing scandal with those of 'the Gestapo'.

'They are behaving just like during the wartime round-up of the Jews,' Tapie said after Marseille's secretary was arrested - a remark condemned by France's Jewish leaders.