Smith to sign for United in £6m deal

Alan Smith is poised to join Manchester United in a move that will further infuriate Leeds United's disillusioned supporters. The England striker, who was yesterday put on stand-by for the European Championship finals, spent the day in Manchester talking with United representatives.

As a lifelong Leeds United fan Smith is well-aware of the trans-Pennine antipathy, a rivalry which will not have been dimmed by Leeds' relegation. He will have seen at close hand the abuse that Rio Ferdinand and Eric Cantona received from Leeds fans following their transfers to Manchester United.

However, last week Smith refused to rule out a move to Old Trafford. He argued that with Leeds heading for the Nationwide League, Manchester United were no longer rivals. "I'm not ruling anything out," he said.

With Sir Alex Ferguson a long-time admirer of the 23-year-old striker, that was all the encouragement the deposed champions needed. Smith was contacted and quickly decided United were his first choice. Assuming he is able to agree terms, his move will disappoint several Premiership clubs including Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City. There was also foreign interest in Smith, notably from Juventus and Valencia.

The two Uniteds are yet to agree a fee but Leeds have little bargaining power. Though Smith is under contract, their financial crisis means they must remove him from the wage bill. If Smith insists it he is only interested in Manchester United they could offer a derisory fee, as Liverpool did last year to secure Harry Kewell for £5m, £2m of which went to his agent. However, with Smith insisting he still loves Leeds, and wants to come back to play for them, a more reasonable price, perhaps £6m, may be agreed.

The transfer will fuel speculation that Ruud van Nistelrooy will, after all, leave Old Trafford for Spain. Like Van Nistelrooy, Smith works well outside the box and his game should dovetail with Louis Saha. However, he has never been a prolific goalscorer and Ferguson would prefer to keep the Dutchman. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expected to leave Old Trafford, Diego Forlan a failure and David Bellion looking likewise, Ferguson would be left short of strikers.

One of Ferguson's first tasks will be to curb Smith's temper. The forward has been dismissed 11 times including once for England. Frustration usually appears the motivation, often at his or his team's performance. This may ease if he is not playing for his home-town club. The irony is that off the field Smith, teetotal and a regular volunteer for community work, is the perfect professional.

That international dismissal, against Macedonia in October 2003, has severely hampered his England career. He was omitted for more than a year then sent home after being called up against Denmark in November. It had emerged he was under police arrest after throwing a bottle into the Elland Road crowd after the Carling Cup defeat against Manchester United. No charges were preferred and he appeared as substitute in England's last two matches. This took his total of England caps to eight with one goal.

Smith would follow Paul Robinson out of Elland Road, the goalkeeper, who was named in the England squad yesterday, joining Tottenham for just £1.5m. Tottenham also had a bid rejected for James Milner, who is now interesting Newcastle. Mark Viduka and Dominic Matteo are also expected to leave as Leeds, heavily in debt, prepare for the £20m drop in income relegation brings.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen