United deny Cantona contract speculation

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The Independent Online

Manchester United yesterday quashed wild speculation that the club would pay the earth to retain Eric Cantona. Any idea that the Frenchman would soon be taking home wages of £25,000 a week was dismissed as pure fiction by Martin Edwards, the chief executive of Manchester United.

"Our highest paid player is not paid £10,000 a week. I'm not prepared to comment on individual contracts, but £25,000 a week is out of the question," he said.

Edwards said that he was astonished about some of the reports linking him to "lucrative contract negotiations" with Cantona in some newspapers yesterday because "I didn't even speak to anyone".

He did confirm, though, that Internazionale were keen to lure Cantona to Italy. However, he added: "We've been approached, but I've not rung them. There is a lot going on at the moment, what with the court case, and I just don't want to discuss it."

Reports that Inter were offering £5.5m for the player, who is banned until October, were also dismissed as fiction. "No figure has been mentioned," Edwards said.

The run-in to the championship appeared to be at the forefront of Edwards' mind yesterday, in particular the financial boost that would arise from playing in the Champions' League next season. United yesterday revealed that the club had raked in more than £3m despite an early exit after just six games in this season's contest.

"We will endeavour to win the last seven games, and hope that Blackburn slip," he said.

United in profit, page 32