Ferguson moves quickly to sign PSV's Robben

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The Independent Football

Arjen Robben, the highly rated PSV Eindhoven player, met Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday after flying to Manchester.

The 19-year-old left-sided striker discussed the possibility of signing for Manchester United at the club's Carrington training base. Old Trafford officials were considering closing a quick deal for £5m.

Robben arrived to look round Old Trafford in the morning and then had a meeting with the United manager along with a PSV official and the player's advisers. United were believed to be keen to move fast to tie up the Netherlands' current young player of the year.

News of United's interest in Robben first emerged earlier this week and now Ferguson has pushed forward with talks over a transfer because he knows Chelsea are interested - and he is getting nowhere with his other targets.

United see Robben as one for the future, in line with many of their recent signings, but he could also be thrown straight into their squad for domestic games this season. Robben is ineligible for Champions' League games as he played for PSV five times in the first-round matches. But he could fit into the Premiership plans.

PSV are willing to sell and will let United decide whether Robben joins them now or in the summer - with Ferguson apparently looking to have the teenager as soon as possible. Ferguson wants a new partner and cover for Ruud van Nistelrooy and he thinks he has found a new face in the youngster who emerged after PSV sold their old boy to United.

Robben is light but skilful and would be ideal playing off a main front man. The deal may therefore not mean the end of United's spending.

Leeds United's Mark Viduka is still on Ferguson's agenda if the price is right and that may be an easier deal to pull off if the Elland Road club fail to find a buyer by their 19 January deadline.

Viduka is a cheaper alternative to Fulham's Louis Saha, who is valued at £15m. United would pay £7m, but now that they hope to secure Robben that takes some pressure off.

Meanwhile, United insiders reveal that Ferguson may not sign a new defender if Wes Brown rediscovers his fitness this month. That would also save them money as they would be under pressure to invest otherwise.

Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City are locked in a transfer battle for Muzzy Izzet, with the Rovers manager, Graeme Souness, warning his rivals they will lose their captain.

Rovers' opening £500,000 offer has been rejected by Leicester, but Souness is bullish about his chances of success in signing the Turkish international midfield player.

Izzet is running out of contract and Leicester will be unable to keep him on his current terms. Souness said: "The bottom line is that Leicester are going to lose him at the end of the season. They have got to weigh up our offer, which is sensible.

"It's either four or five months work from the player or its money they could get right now."

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