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By ESPN Staff

Sir Alex still searching for Keane's replacement

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admits he has been forced to look abroad in a bid to fill the void left by Roy Keane's departure last December.

Over the past 25 years, United have relied on the battling qualities of Bryan Robson, Keane and, to a lesser extent, Paul Ince to provide the driving force from midfield.

However, Ferguson believes there are no such players available in Britain at the moment.

Lyon's £24million-rated midfielder Mahamadou Diarra is reportedly top of Ferguson's wanted list, while Villarreal playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme and Valencia's Aldo Duscher have also been linked with a move to Old Trafford.

But while Ferguson hopes he can recruit a foreign replacement to match Keane's playing ability, the United boss accepts finding one with the same leadership qualities will be almost impossible.

Ferguson told MUTV: 'It's not easy to replace Roy Keane, just as it wasn't when Bryan Robson came to the end of his career. We looked for a new Bryan Robson and fortunately we were very lucky to get Roy Keane.

'That scenario is on us again. We've got to get a Roy Keane and we've got to complete that quest in terms of getting that type of player who can influence not just the dressing room but also on the field

'We have some ideas in mind in that respect, maybe not exactly a Roy Keane-type but players who would add to the midfield.

'One of the benefits of Roy was, even though he was from the Republic of Ireland, it was like he was British, so there was no problem in terms of his culture and the language. He was a Manchester lad really, we brought him here from Nottingham at a young age.

'In the present situation where we're looking for a Roy Keane there is no-one, absolutely no-one, of that type in the English game. There are some good players in the English game but not a Roy Keane-type.

'So when we look abroad we have to take into consideration that he's not going to be a Roy Keane in terms of his influence in the dressing room because of culture, language, things like that.

'It will be a different type of player but hopefully it will be somebody who has the qualities that we need.'