United snub has baffled me, says Van Nistelrooy

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The Independent Football

United will sell the 29-year-old this summer, providing a £10m transfer fee and a club that matches Van Nistelrooy's ambitions are involved in the deal, after Ferguson responded to concerns about the striker's attitude and impact on team morale by dropping him for the season's finale with Charlton and Roy Keane's testimonial two days later.

The United manager's punishment is believed to have followed another training ground dispute between Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo but, speaking for the first time about the controversy from the Netherlands' World Cup training camp in Switzerland, the forward denied walking out of the team hotel over his omission from the Charlton game.

"I know a lot of people in Manchester don't understand it, well it is the same for me," Van Nistelrooy said. "I love Manchester United. That is why I don't really understand it. What has happened has happened. I have a World Cup in front of me, so need to try and forget about it and move on, but I want to make clear that I went [from the hotel] because I had to go, not because I went myself."

The Dutchman has two years left on a contract estimated to be worth £90,000 a week and, though he is prepared to wait until after the World Cup to resolve his future, the striker's agent, Rodger Linse, has already begun the search for his next destination, with Milan, Internazionale, Newcastle and even Chelsea all sounded out.

Van Nistelrooy, who has received support from Old Trafford team-mates but has not spoken to Ferguson since 7 May, added: "I am not naïve and the fact I wasn't involved in the last game or Roy Keane's testimonial was not a good sign, but nothing is going to happen until after the World Cup."

* The European champions Barcelona will make a swoop for the former Manchester United forward Diego Forlan, after prime target Thierry Henry turned down a move to the Nou Camp. The Uruguayan Forlan, 27, who plays for Villarreal is seen as a replacement for departing Swede Henrik Larsson. The fee could be up to £10m as he is contracted until 2009.

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