Manchester United short in midfield after selling Park Ji-sung to old boy Mark Hughes


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The Independent Football

Manchester United have agreed a deal with Queen's Park Rangers which will see Park Ji-sung move to the west London club for a fee of £5m, it emerged last night.

There remains some work still to do to tie up the transfer, though the move is likely to be concluded by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Park, the player whom Sir Alex Ferguson often turned to for big matches but whose selection for the effective title decider against Manchester City in April caused the manager's judgement to be questioned, had been an increasingly rare part of United's plans.

The 31-year-old did not play a minute of first-team football between 15 March and the Etihad game, on 30 April . With Ferguson admitting this week that Darren Fletcher will not be well enough to be back for the start of the season and the Scotsman's future in some doubt, United's need for midfield reinforcement looks greater than ever.

It became clear that QPR manager Mark Hughes, a former United favourite, had been successful in his pursuit of Park, who was signed for £4m seven years ago, when his image was replaced by that of Wayne Rooney on literature promoting United's tour of China and South Africa, yesterday.

The Japanese recruit Shinji Kagawa fills the gap created by Park, who was a vital marketing vehicle for United in Asia. Though often uncelebrated, Park's 203 appearances included some of United's most important games during his time at the club and he scored 27 times.

Manchester City's Wayne Bridge yesterday joined Brighton & Hove Albion on a season-long loan deal. The 31-year-old former England left-back moved to the Etihad Stadium from Chelsea in 2009 but has been frozen out by the City manager, Roberto Mancini.

Bridge was loaned to West Ham and Sunderland over the past two seasons, and Brighton's manager, Gus Poyet, said Bridge had been one of his main summer targets.

"It's difficult to say how happy I am because it's not easy to get top-class players," Poyet said. "I'm absolutely delighted to have Wayne with us. He's been one of the top three left-backs in this country for many years.

"There were a lot of things that had to come together to make it happen. Firstly, David Platt has been great at Manchester City and then Wayne and his agent have helped a lot, too.

"It was not an easy one to secure, but this is what we want at this club. He's a quality player with lots of international experience. Wayne has played at the top of English football for a long time. We have all got to learn from him and I'm sure that he will have a very good season with us. It's going to be very nice to sit back and watch him on the pitch."

Meanwhile, Aston Villa yesterday completed the signing of the highly-rated 23-year-old Sheffield United right-back Matthew Lowton for a fee believed to be worth around £3m. Lowton will provide competition for last season's first choice right-back Alan Hutton and his deputy Eric Lichaj in Paul Lambert's first-team squad.