Blanc rejects new advance from United

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The Independent Football

The Internazionale defender Laurent Blanc has admitted he turned down a fresh advance from Manchester United just days before France's friendly against England.

The Internazionale defender Laurent Blanc has admitted he turned down a fresh advance from Manchester United just days before France's friendly against England.

The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, admitted in July that he had been unsuccessful with three bids for the veteran centre-back, and the latest rejection could spell the end of United's interest.

The French 34-year-old hung up his international boots after the Stade de France friendly but is under contract with the San Siro side until the end of this season.

"I was contacted by Manchester United two weeks ago," Blanc said in L'Equipe yesterday. "But it's over now. I could have sealed a very good financial deal with them or even asked Inter to pay me more, but I feel very happy here in Milan, both on the social and sport sides."

Blanc indicated he could be tempted away at the end of the season. "I want to stay here until the end of my contract," he said: "As far as next season is concerned, we'll see."

Inter start the long process of rebuilding their battered pride tonight when they meet Ruch Chorzow in the Uefa Cup first round in Poland.

Inter, whose squad has been assembled at a cost of well over £70m, began the European season hoping for a successful campaign amid the glamour of the Champions' League.

Instead, they now find themselves in Europe's second competition, turning out against a little-known club who are bottom of the Polish first division.

The Italian giants are paying a heavy price for last month's 0-0 draw at San Siro with the Swedish minnows Helsingborg in the Champions' League qualifiers. They had lost the first leg 1-0.

The Inter coach, Marcello Lippi, who called his team's failure "the worst moment I've ever had at the club", faced the predictable demands from fans that he be sacked.

Publicly backed by the club's senior officials, Lippi managed to weather the storm. But his cause suffered another setback last Friday with a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Lazio in the Italian Super Cup.

Now he fields a side with a lot to make up for in the eyes of the San Siro faithful.

Goalkeeper Sebastian Frey, French veteran defender Laurent Blanc and Uruguayan striker Alvaro Recoba are all available after missing last Friday's defeat through injury.

Recoba, who missed a last-minute penalty in that fateful draw with Helsingborg, is set to play on the left of a three-man attack with Turkey's Hakan Sukur and Robbie Keane.

The Irish international signalled his arrival in Italian football by scoring after only three minutes against Lazio and there should be plenty of opportunities tonight.

Ruch Chorzow, with only five points from seven games in the Polish league, have not scored a goal for a whole month and have scored only four times since the season started.

Inter, meanwhile, have an enviable record in the Uefa Cup, having won the trophy for the third time as recently as 1998.

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