Roma head legion of clubs out to sign Keane

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The Independent Football

Roy Keane has been targeted by the Italian club Roma, who have made an enquiry about the former Manchester United midfielder with a view to taking him in January. They are the only Serie A side to have made a serious approach. Juventus are understood to have been approached by Keane's lawyer Michael Kennedy, but the Turin club have indicated that they are not interested in signing the 34-year-old.

Roma, eighth in Serie A after 12 games, will sell their wayward young talent Antonio Cassano in January, with no shortage of takers for the precocious striker. With the money expected from his sale - to Juventus or Milan - they would be able to put together a package that Keane would find attractive. Roma's manager Luciano Spalletti has been told by his club's board that they will make an effort to sign the player.

Celtic's chief executive Brian Quinn said this weekend that the club would gladly take Keane but not on the wages of around £90,000 a week he commanded at Old Trafford, a bargaining tactic that is unlikely to impress the Irishman. There has also been a public expression of interest from Wigan Athletic and Manchester City while Everton are also known to be considering a bid.

While Celtic's chances of signing Keane would appear to rely heavily on him settling for the emotional lure of the club rather than the financial package they can offer the problem is even more significant for those south of the border. Keane's advisers have found him unwilling to budge on his resolve never to play against United at Old Trafford and that could yet see him go abroad.

He has until 1 January, when he would be able to sign for a new team, to make up his mind and, as he is still recovering from a broken toe, will be in no rush to make a quick decision.

Gordon Strachan told reporters at Parkhead on Saturday "not to bother" asking about Keane while Wigan chairman Dave Whelan was more open he said he would not "interfere in management decisions". "I don't interfere in management decisions but if he [Paul Jewell] wants to sign Roy Keane, we'll try," Whelan said.

There was much less reluctance from Stuart Pearce when he came to discuss the player he had inspired as a young man at Nottingham Forest. He compared Keane's situation with his own when he left Forest after 12 years in 1997 and found himself at Newcastle with "something to prove".

"I would think with a new challenge, going to a new club, he'll roll his sleeves up and really look forward to it," Pearce said. "Roy will know in his own mind. He'll end up going to play for, I suspect, a very good club, and I would think he'd have plenty of offers. I know in my career that leaving Nottingham Forest after 12 years gave me a big lift."

The reports of the former Bayern Munich manager Ottmar Hitzfeld being sounded out as a possible successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United have been described as inaccurate by sources at the club. The 56-year-old, who left Bayern at the end of last season and has not worked since, was quoted in Germany as saying that United had made enquiries about his availability, but that was understood to relate to 2002 when Ferguson had originally planned to retire.

Ruud van Nistelrooy was questioned by the Metropolitan police after a Charlton match steward was injured during his goal celebrations among the crowd at the Valley on Saturday. The Dutch striker was allowed to join the United squad who left London by train from Euston and it was not clear whether the man was injured directly by Van Nistelrooy or in the excitement around the striker.

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