United favourites to win chase for American prodigy Szetela

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The Independent Football

Manchester United are trying to sign the American prodigy Danny Szetela as they attempt to augment their American contingent.

The 16-year-old midfielder, who played a closed-doors trial for United at their Carrington HQ ahead of a possible signing in the next few days, was one of the leading lights of the American squad in the recent World Youth Championship in Finland and is being chased by clubs in England and elsewhere.

The teenager, whose extrovert performances and woolly hairstyle made him a stand-out in the under-17 competition, is with the New Jersey-based World Class Olympic and there would be a fee involved. However, United are aware that if Szetela made the first team it would help them crack the lucrative commercial market in the States.

Szetela, whose parents are Polish and who could therefore qualify for a work permit, is the type of eye-catching player that United's money men see as a lucrative attraction. However, the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is on the look-out for the best youngsters from around the world, is more interested in his ability and has had good reports from the trial.

Szetela turned out against Walsall's youth team in the specially arranged game and will soon know if he is to be offered a contract. United already have his compatriot, the goalkeeper Tim Howard, in the first team, while at youth level there is one of his international team-mates, the centre-half Jonathan Spector.

They are also chasing the even younger Freddy Adu, although Chelsea have come in for him with a better offer.

On the way out of Old Trafford, almost certainly, is Fabien Barthez. The world governing body, Fifa, is to rule on whether the France international goalkeeper can complete his nine-month loan move to Marseilles next week.

The French Football Federation president, Claude Simonet, said documents would be sent on to Fifa by Monday morning, and a decision on whether the player can move outside the official transfer window would then be made next week in Zurich, either on Thursday or Friday.

Simonet would not say whether the FFF would support Marseilles's attempt to register Barthez, saying only: "It's a very individual case because it concerns Fabien Barthez. The French Federation does not want to publicly express its opinion on the matter."

The national team's coach, Jacques Santini, has told his players that if they do not play regular first-team club football, they cannot be guaranteed a place in his squad for next year's European Championship, and Marseilles, where Barthez came to prominence in the early 1990s, believe that an injury that will keep out their reserve goalkeeper, Cedric Carasso, for six months gives them a good case for special dispensation.

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