Ferguson set to make Italian raid for Couto

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By Alan Nixon

By Alan Nixon

12 October 1999

MANCHESTER UNITED are considering signing Lazio's Fernando Couto. Reports in Italy suggested United were planning to take a close look at the Portuguese international when he played in a testimonial for the United manager, Alex Ferguson, at Old Trafford last night.

The 30-year-old central defender joined Lazio in July 1998 from Barcelona but has failed to establish himself in the first team. Before joining Barcelona he played for two seasons in Serie A for Parma.

David Beckham gave United an assurance last night that he wants to carry on playing for them in the future.

The England midfielder had to come out and state his position after rumours that his wife Victoria - the pop star Posh Spice - wanted him to find a club in London. But Beckham refuted the stories and also revealed his wife was happy in the North, adding that he feared a possible backlash against her from United supporters.

Beckham said: "I don't want to be anywhere else. I'm happy and my wife is happy.

"People are always going to say that I'm unhappy with things and also that Victoria chooses what I wear and what I do with my hair and what I eat. But it's a lot of rubbish.

"Victoria's happy up here. We're living as a family and she could not be more pleased. She loves the people up here."

Peter Schmeichel has ruled out returning to Old Trafford to solve Manchester United's goalkeeping crisis.

The treble-winners have struggled to replace the Dane since he joined Sporting Lisbon on a free transfer during the summer. His initial replacement, Mark Bosnich, was quickly discarded after picking up an injury, while Massimo Taibi, who joined in a £4.5m move from Venezia, has made a series of blunders.

"It's unrealistic to put me in connection with United," Schmeichel said. "They haven't contacted me and if it happened I would tell them that I am not at all interested in reviving my eight years at the club. I cannot help United any more."

Watford are to show their clash with the Premiership champions on 16 October live on a giant screen at Vicarage Road after the club received more than four times their Old Trafford application in ticket requests.