McClaren tries to poach Forlan

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Steve McClaren is trying to hijack the attempt by his former manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, to take the Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan to Old Trafford.

The Middlesbrough manager has also been chasing the Independiente player and he sent a delegation to Argentina yesterday to try to agree a £6m deal for the highly rated 22-year-old. The club's chief executive, Keith Lamb, flew out to South America to meet Independiente officials, who have admitted their player is up for sale.

United have been haggling over a fee for the past fortnight since it was first revealed that Forlan was a Ferguson target. However, the United board have been moving slowly, making an initial offer of around £4.5m for Forlan.

Independiente, worried by the slow progress, are also concerned that United are closing in on West Ham's Paolo Di Canio and so may not match their valuation on Forlan.

McClaren, who thought United's move would end his chances of a deal, has been tipped off that the transfer talks are dragging.

Independiente need to sell Forlan, but will only retain 60 per cent of the fee. He is part-owned by a leading football investor, Samuel Leberman.

There is nothing illegal in this. Independiente will receive the transfer cash from the buying club and then pay the agreed slice to the Argentinian businessman who "sponsors" Forlan.