Inter wait on United Cantona

Manchester United are convinced that Eric Cantona will still be on their books next season.

The Old Trafford club's manager, Alex Ferguson, said yesterday: "We know it will be difficult for Eric to return to normal football in this country, but we think it is possible. I've said all along we want him to stay, and together we can work it out. We have a meeting with him and his agent next week and hopefully something can be settled."

Cantona was ordered last Friday to do 120 hours community service for his assault on a Crystal Palace spectator, Matthew Simmons, at a Premiership fixture in January. He has also been banned from football across the world until 30 September.

The Italian club, Internazionale, have denied reports that they are due to discuss a transfer for the former French captain with his agent, behind the players' back. Thomas Villa, a spokesman for the Milan club, said: "We don't have any meeting planned with Eric Cantona or his representatives.

"We know that Manchester United have talks planned with the player next Monday and we are simply awaiting the outcome," Villa added. "Maybe next week we will then speak with United to see what the position is and whether there is any possibility of signing him.

"Certainly our president has faxed our interest but we are simply waiting for an answer. If Manchester United say he's not for sale, then that is the end of the matter."

Ferguson said: "I think Inter are acting quite properly in all this, despite a lot of misleading speculation."

Diego Maradona, the former captain of Argentina, has gone missing again from his local team, Racing Club of Buenos Aires. His assistant, Carlos Fren, said that Maradona, who is banned from playing after failing a drug test at last year's World Cup, had taken a 20-day leave from his coaching job. He was due back on Tuesday, after emerging last Saturday from a week- long absence.

Then, Maradona said he had left home after "a little marital spat" but had since made up with his wife. The troubled former World Cup winner, who triggered a media hunt when he dropped out of public sight, has failed to turn up for Racing's last two matches and several training sessions.