posted on May, 20 2003 @ 11:44 AM
Valencia's highly-rated midfielder Ruben Baraja would consider a big-money offer from Manchester United.
Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson is thought to have expressed an interest in the 27-year-old Spanish international, who has also attracted the
attention of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Baraja only recently signed an extension to his current contract, which ties him to Valencia until 2008.
However, United are one of the few clubs in Europe with enough cash available to force Los Che into a deal, although Ferguson would be reluctant to
match the estimated £18m price-tag which has been placed on Baraja's head.
"There are rumours regarding interest from Manchester United in Baraja but no-one has officially contacted us,'' said the player's representative
Manuel Garcia Quilon.
"His contract is not due to expire for another five years but he is a very ambitious player and if there was an interesting offer that is good for his
sporting career and for the club, he would consider it.''
A forceful player in the Roy Keane mould, Baraja's arrival would offer Ferguson the alternative of dropping his inspirational skipper into a central
defensive position, providing the cunning the United boss felt was missing from his side's Champions League challenge this season.
Ferguson already knows he will be without Wes Brown at least until Christmas as the England defender struggles to recover from the second cruciate
knee ligament injury of his career and has also lost Laurent Blanc and David May from his first-team squad.
A move for Baraja is possible, particularly if Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho opts for a move to Spain should he confirm expectations and quit
Paris Saint-Germain this summer.
Ferguson has confirmed he has "ideas" over who to bring to Old Trafford during the close season, although, as usual, he has refused to publicly
declare his hand.
With Brown ruled out for almost half the season already and Laurent Blanc and David May both leaving this summer, defensive reinforcements are almost
certain as Ferguson continues the quest to land United's third European Cup.
"We are only talking about small details and we are not too far away but as a club we have only won the European Cup twice and we have to do better
than that,'' he said.
"There won't be massive dealings this summer, maybe just two or three, but we have our ideas and hopefully we will pursue them.
"The key is to strengthen when you are strong.''