Ferguson confirms bid for new player

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson today confirmed he is trying to sign at least one new player.

The Manchester United boss refused to reveal the identity of his target, although it is believed to be Dimitar Berbatov, but confirmed a bid had been lodged which he hoped would lead to a successful conclusion.

"We have made a bid for one player who would enhance us a great deal," said Ferguson.

Tottenham are holding out for more cash but whether United are prepared to go beyond the £20million that has been mentioned is doubtful.

In any case, it would be handy for Spurs to get the money in quickly as manager Juande Ramos looks to rejig his own squad, with a big-money move for David Bentley in the offing.

The deal could move much closer over the next fortnight, although with Ferguson and chief executive David Gill both on the plane for United's tour of South Africa and Nigeria, it will be left to club solicitor Maurice Watkins, who found himself at the centre of the Carlos Tevez affair last summer, to deal with any on-the-spot issues.

"I have replaced Gerard Pique with Jonny Evans, so we are back to the same numbers," said Ferguson.

"If we got one more it would strengthen us even further."

Ferguson took charge of a 21-man party for the four-match tour, which opens against the Kaizer Chiefs in Cape Town on Saturday.

Aside from Nani, Edwin van der Sar and Patrice Evra, who were all in action at Euro 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is recovering from an ankle operation, and Anderson, who played for Brazil in World Cup qualifying action, the main absentee was Owen Hargreaves.

Ferguson confirmed the tendonitis problem, which reared its head during last pre-season and bothered the England international until November when he eventually was forced to have injections to ease the problem, has resurfaced.

"It was apparent as soon as he came back to training," said the United boss.

"It is the same as last year. Some people get these things.

"Maybe re-starting training on the firmish grounds brings it on or maybe it is just an inherent problem.

"We are trying to sort it out now with injections. That is what we did last November and it worked. Hopefully these work and by the time we come back from South Africa he should be okay."

Ferguson expects Hargreaves to link up with the other senior stars who remained in Manchester and could yet be involved in a reserve team outing at Oxford on 26 July.

Certainly the United camp remain confident Hargreaves will be fit when they begin the defence of their Premier League crown against Newcastle in five weeks.

"Owen is not written off for the start of the season at all," he said. "I am sure he will be okay."

Louis Saha is having treatment for an injury in France, although it is doubtful the striker would have been involved anyway as he seems certain to leave Old Trafford during the current transfer window.

Gary Neville will take his customary position as captain, with Ferguson stating the England defender is now fully fit after virtually 16 months on the sidelines and ready to scrap with Wes Brown for the right-back berth that had been his own for so long.

"For Gary in particular this trip is very important," said Ferguson.

"He came through his 45 minutes at Aberdeen on Saturday with no problem at all, which is fantastic news.

"The great thing about Gary is that he has not missed a training session since the last time he came back in April.

"We could have played him at the end of the season but Wes was doing so well.

"His form was so good I didn't want to have doubts in my mind about picking him. Wes had played in every game, so we kept it like that.

"But now, a new season is about to start and Gary will get his chance."

After their trip to Cape Town, United will move on to Durban and Pretoria before a flying visit to Nigeria.

They will then return home to face Espanyol, Peterborough and Juventus in a packed five-day spell before the Community Shield clash with Portsmouth at Wembley on 10 August.

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