Real close to deal for Van Nistelrooy

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid are trying to push through a deal to sign Ruud van Nistelrooy for €15m (£10.7m) - although Manchester United will not be rushed into any transfer.

The Dutch striker can certainly leave Old Trafford and talks between his representatives and Real in the last few days have been extremely positive. But United want £15m - not €15m - although they are likely to compromise. They are also concerned that the fee they are being quoted for Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres is too high.

Torres has been identified as Van Nistelrooy's replacement but the Spanish club are still, at present, sticking to the buy-out clause of €58m (£41.4m) in the 22-year-old's contract. No one at Atletico expects that fee to be paid and privately they are resigned to selling their captain if a club offers close to £30m. But a deal may not be reached until next month.

United's transfer plans are in some confusion with Cristiano Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, still wanting talks over the winger's future although it is clear the Portuguese international will have to ask for a transfer request formally if any deal is to be done. However, United remain adamant that he will stay.

Gabriel Heinze yesterday pledged his future to the club, in the face of some public overtures from Real, while United are close to agreeing a deal to sign the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak for £3m - which could lead to Ben Foster going back on loan to Watford.

Talks are also expected to resume next week over Michael Carrick's proposed transfer from Tottenham Hotspur. United have offered £10m for the England midfielder although Spurs have made clear that they need to raise their bid to £14m for a deal to take place. United are confident that the transfer will go through.

At the same time United, who yesterday flew out to South Africa for a pre-season tour, will have been alerted to comments made yesterday by Lyon midfielder Mahamadou Diarra. The Mali international, who has interested a host of clubs including Real and United, said he was unhappy with comments made by the club's coach, Gérard Houllier, who said he would not be leaving. "I know the club relies on me and I also rely a lot on the club," Diarra said. "I didn't allow anyone to talk in my place. Today, I am open to any proposition." The 25-year-old, who has now signed a new contract, would, however, command a fee of around £20m.

Meanwhile, Jermain Defoe and Northern Ireland Under-19 captain Kieran McKenna scored the goals as Spurs defeated Bordeaux 2-1 in a pre-season friendly last night.

* Franck Ribery's agent, Bruno Heiderscheid, has denied reports that Arsenal have made a £10m bid for the Marseilles winger. Arsenal yesterday secured a £260m loan, using future sales of match tickets as a guarantee. The money will help pay off the debts they have totted up in building the new Emirates Stadium in north London. It is believed to be Europe's first ticket-backed bond scheme.

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