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Ferguson set to unleash Macheda on loan market

Federico Macheda's agent has said that Manchester United are ready to let the 19-year-old leave on loan for six months.

The striker has scored only once in 12 appearances this season and with Sir Alex Ferguson insisting earlier this week that any club hoping to take Michael Owen from Old Trafford next month is deluded, a loan deal with Juventus, Fiorentina or his hometown club Lazio seems to be a possibility.

Danny Welbeck's release to Sunderland for the season has already deprived Ferguson of one young striker, but the success of Javier Hernandez reduces the need for Macheda, who is yet to deliver from the start of games as he does from the bench. "Federico could leave United, that is true, but only on loan," said the Italy under-21 international's agent Marcello Bonetto.

"The club and Ferguson have absolute faith in [him]. With the return of Michael Owen, confirmation of Wayne Rooney, plus fine form of Dimitar Berbatov, the space for him in Manchester has been reduced. We talked it over and were given the all-clear by Ferguson to go on loan for six months in January to gain experience. Until now we have not been contacted by anybody, but will only choose a club that can guarantee Federico consistent playing time. That's the only reason for leaving Manchester."

After the concession of yet another late equaliser at Birmingham on Tuesday left United at the top of the Premier League on goal difference alone, Rio Ferdinand has said the side need to close out games. "We need to shut games out like that and we didn't manage to do so. That's the disappointing thing," Ferdinand said.