United may abandon chase for Ronaldinho

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The Independent Football

Manchester United's attempt to sign Ronaldinho appeared close to collapse last night after Paris St-Germain rejected the Premiership champions' latest £15m offer.

For a while yesterday United's path to the Brazilian international seemed to have opened up as Real Madrid ruled themselves out of the reckoning. But that was before Barcelona re-entered the chase with a new offer of players plus cash.

United's patience with PSG is now wearing thin and they may now be ready to turn their attention to the Real Betis winger Sanchez Joaquin. The United chief executive, Peter Kenyon, flew to Spain last night, fuelling rumours that a bid for the young Spaniard, valued at around £12m, could be imminent.

Internazionale are also trying to sign Joaquin, but United look increasingly likely to enter the bidding if PSG do not play ball over Ronaldinho.

It emerged yesterday that JP McManus and John Magnier had upped their stake in Manchester United to 11.4 per cent from 10.3 per cent. The move, via their Cubic Expression investment vehicle, seems to contradict speculation that the Irish duo are looking to offload their stake in the club.

United shares, which have risen by over 50 per cent since the start of the year, fell 0.25p to 160p after City stockbroker Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein turned more cautious. Dresdner also poured cold water on club takeover rumours, saying it believes a bid is unlikely to emerge in the short term.

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