United in talks to sign £22m Veron

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The Independent Online

Manchester United were yesterday attempting to resolve the problems which could prevent them completing the British record signing of Lazio's Argentinian midfielder, Juan Sebastian Veron.

United met Veron's representatives, headed by the Israeli agent, Pinhas Zahavi, in Manchester as they tried to agree personal terms and clarify the situation over his "fake" passport. While all sides stayed silent, sources close to the deal suggest that a price of £22m has been agreed.

Veron has been charged with securing an Italian passport ­ which enabled him to get into Serie A without a work permit ­ by using false documents, which showed that he had Italian ancestry. He is due to appear in an Italian court in October.

The Italian football authorities are also investigating the cases of Veron and others players who are alleged to have used illegal passports. Carlo Porceddu, the prosecutor for the Italian football federation, called yesterday for a two-year ban on Veron, Lazio's president, Sergio Cragnotti, and two other club officials. The federation is expected to rule on all the passport cases next week.

However, the federation is not obliged to heed the prosecutor's call and Lazio are hoping Veron's case will be dropped if he is sold to a club in another country. If he is banned in Italy, Fifa, the game's international governing body, is threatening to extend the ban worldwide. Veron, who protests his innocence, can also appeal against any sentence, which would allow him to continue playing football. Veron has enough Argentina caps to qualify for a work permit in England.

United were also addressing the potential problem of Veron's personal terms at their meeting yesterday. He earns around £90,000 a week, which would conflict with the Old Trafford wage system, although there could be other ways in which the deal could be structured.

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