United's summer ruling on Cantona

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The Independent Online
Manchester United yesterday sought to play down reports that Eric Cantona's future at the club is under threat.

Martin Edwards, the chief executive and chairman at Old Trafford, said: "No discussions have taken place [with Eric] because these matters are always reviewed in the close season. Eric Cantona is under contract to us for another year, and there is no issue, no justification for this kind of speculation."

However, Cantona, 31 next month, has received no firm commitment about his future since his below-par performance in Wednesday's European Champions League exit against Borussia Dortmund, and there have been suggestions that for financial reasons, he will not get any such commitment.

Decisions about the trading of players, and negotiations surrounding players' contracts, are handled by two boards at Manchester United. The public limited company board are ultimately responsible to share- holders for all financial dealings, and the club board are responsible for the day-to-day running of the football team. The boards act in consultation with each other, but the final decision on Cantona's future lies with Martin Edwards and one non-executive director of the plc board.

Cantona is thought to earn around pounds 750,000 a year and, should United decide not to offer him a new contract they may be willing to sell him this summer rather than let his contract run out - which would allow him to leave on a free transfer.

The Israeli international midfielder and captain Tal Banin, 28, is expected to train with Liverpool next week with a view to joining the club next season. Banin is out of contract and would not command a transfer fee.

The Newcastle manager Kenny Dalglish is expected to complete the signing of the Georgian midfielder Temur Ketsbaia today. Ketsbaia's contract with AEK Athens expires at the end of the season.

n Steve Stone, the Nottingham Forest midfield player who ruptured his knee in September, will not be able to play again until October.

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