Dispute holds up Blanc transfer

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The Independent Online

Laurent Blanc's move to Manchester United stalled last night over an argument about a £500,000 golden handshake.

The French centre-half was due to arrive in Manchester for a medical before signing for United in time for tomorrow night's Champions League midnight deadline. Blanc, who is available on a free transfer, has been lined up as a replacement for Jaap Stam, who joined Lazio for £15.25m on Monday.

But Blanc refused to leave Internazionale without receiving money due to him in signing-on fees and loyalty bonuses – a sum close to £500,000, according to Italian sources.

Instead of heading for Manchester, Blanc continued training while the clubs tried to resolve the issue. Inter do not want to give Blanc the money as they are not receiving a transfer fee, while United declined to pick up the tab.

United do not have any alternatives lined up and their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, faces an anxious wait for Blanc. Inter know that United are under pressure and are happy to hold out for them to pay the money that Blanc is looking for.

Blanc, a close friend of the United goalkeeper and his international team-mate Fabien Barthez, has turned down moves to Old Trafford on least three previous occasions.

Blanc is likely to demand wages of around £2m a year but is the sort of experienced defender Ferguson is seeking as a replacement for Stam.

Blanc sat on the bench at the weekend as Inter beat Perugia 4-1 at the San Siro after being replaced at the centre of the defence by the Colombian Ivan Cordoba and the former Everton player Marco Materazzi.

United's efforts to find a long-term defensive replacement are also being frustrated. Valencia have dismissed speculation that their central defender Robert Ayala may move to United.

The former Napoli and Milan defender has been valued by Valencia at £37.1m, and the Valencia president, Jaime Orti, said: "We know that Manchester United are interested in the player. However, Ayala is an important player for Valencia and we do not want to sell him. "We have not been contacted by Manchester United recently but some time ago we were asked by them about the player."

PSV Eindhoven told Ferguson he would have to wait at least a year to sign Kevin Hofland. The player's agent and father, Huub, said: "We have agreed with PSV that Kevin will play at least two seasons."

Parma's Fabio Cannavaro was courted by Lazio until United sold Stam to the Rome club but the Parma president, Stefano Tanzi, is insistent that the defender is not for sale.

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