Manchester United are flying in the Brazilian World Cup player Kleberson today after agreeing a £5m deal with Atletico Paranaense last night.
Kleberson, a close friend of another Old Trafford target, Ronaldinho, is arriving from South America to have his medical and sign after the cut-price deal was agreed in Manchester, leaving Leeds out in the cold.
The Brazilian delegation met United's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, shortly after the American goalkeeper Tim Howard was signed. United moved for Kleberson after the fee was established with Atletico officials by Leeds, and the bargain dropped into their lap as Juan Sebastian Veron was preparing to move to Chelsea. Kleberson will require a work permit but should resolve his personal terms since he is on a low wage at the Brazilian club.
Leeds were attempting to arrange a consolation deal last night by trying to sign another Brazilian, Rodrigo, who is on trial with them following his release at the end of last season from Everton.
It is a lucky break for United, who were not planning any move for him until Chelsea came in for Veron. The agent Pini Zahavi, who is working for the new Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, has spoken to United, however, and both they and Chelsea are confident that the two deals will go ahead, leaving the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson waiting on Ronaldinho's signature to end a frantic week.
Ronaldinho's agent suggested yesterday that the deal might not be struck until next week, which would disappoint Ferguson as the club are due to begin their tour of America on Saturday. The striker's representative and brother, Roberto Assis, said Ronaldinho will stay in Brazil until there is good reason for him to believe the talks are nearing a conclusion.
"I don't think that the signature will take place this week as Ronaldinho is still in Brazil and has things to do," Assis said, adding: "We are very optimistic. I am very happy for my brother and myself. We are waiting for the clubs to reach an agreement before Ronaldinho returns from Brazil.
"Things are progressing well but I prefer to be sure that things between Manchester and PSG are resolved before being completely happy. We don't want to wait too long before Ronaldinho comes back."
At a press conference to unveil Howard as his latest signing, Ferguson said: "We are obviously pursuing the Ronaldinho thing very intensely now, it's getting to that stage. It's maybe just about there, we don't know. We are very close."
Ferguson said he expects the 24-year-old Howard to challenge Fabien Barthez strongly. "The important thing is that Tim will be given an opportunity, but a coach can't guarantee anyone his position - he has to do that himself," he said. "His reflexes are very quick and he has a good presence. I'm nothing but impressed and his performances in the Confederat- ions Cup were superb."
Howard said his arrival at United had been a "fantasy". "Hopefully I have some good tools and I can exploit them," he said. "It's a fantasy really to even think you'll play here but when the interest came about it was humbling and exciting. It's the best club in the world without a doubt."
Howard is to be approached about raising the profile of Tourette's syndrome in Britain. Howard, who has suffered from the condition for 15 years, became involved in the US, where he was seen as a role model. Now the Tourette's Syndrome (UK) Association will invite Howard to its headquarters to discuss what role he might play.
"Tourette's syndrome is not a problem. It is part of my life," he said. "It doesn't affect me one way or another, on or off the field. In the match it doesn't affect me. I need to keep the ball out of the net and it will never affect me doing that job. Maybe there are times off the ball but even then it is not much of a problem."
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