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Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 8 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 21, 2006

Unsettled Ruud will return to United on Monday

Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to roll out the welcome mat for Ruud van Nistelrooy's return to training with Manchester United on Monday.

The Dutch striker's future has been the subject of intense speculation throughout the summer, with both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich heavily linked with the 30-year-old.

A move at some point seemed inevitable given Van Nistelrooy's end-of-season bust-up with Ferguson, who hardly played the forward through the latter stages of the campaign, then axed him in favour of Giuseppe Rossi for the final game against Charlton.

That move prompted a furious response from Van Nistelrooy, which resulted in him being kicked out of the team hotel, barred from playing in Roy Keane's testimonial three days later and, to all intents and purposes, shunted out of the Old Trafford exit door for good.

Real quickly moved in once the World Cup was over and, with new coach Fabio Capello confirming his interest in signing the former PSV Eindhoven man, it was thought Van Nistelrooy would be unveiled at the Bernabeu at some point this week.

Instead, discussions have stalled over the fee, with Real refusing to meet United's £15million valuation and now starting to make veiled threats they will not be held to ransom.

Bayern remain hopeful of luring Van Nistelrooy - a fluent German speaker - to the Bundesliga.

However, no deal will be completed over the weekend, meaning the forward is expected back at United's Carrington training base for the start of his pre-season work on Monday.

And, rather than fear the prospect of Van Nistelrooy's return, Ferguson claims he will be delighted to see the forward, one of only eight players to score 150 goals for United, and would have no problem if he was still part of his squad next season.

'Ruud is not definitely leaving and I expect to see him at training on Monday,' Ferguson said.

'I spoke to (chief executive) David Gill on the phone yesterday and there is no development as far as Real Madrid is concerned.

'They have made an offer, we have rejected it. That is where the situation lies. If they don't come back in and increase their offer, he won't be going and I would be content with that. It would not bother me one bit.

'He is a striker who can score upwards of 20 goals a season and there are not many of those going around.'

Although Ferguson could be playing the diplomatic card, United have made no secret of their desire to play hardball over Van Nistelrooy, citing the £29million Chelsea have paid for Andriy Shevchenko and the £8.5million it cost Everton to sign Andrew Johnson from Crystal Palace, then questioning which player Van Nistelrooy's past record suggests he should be closest to.

Meanwhile, the United boss has distanced himself from claims he attacked Chelsea's transfer policy during an after-dinner speech in Johannesburg earlier this week.

It was alleged Ferguson suggested Chelsea were 'hell bent on ruining football' with their big-spending ways.

However, the Scot has denied making the comments, although he did express some concern at talk the Blues were recruiting massive numbers of African youngsters, one of whom, John Obi Mikel, Chelsea bought from United at a cost of £12million earlier this year after a protracted wrangle and without him actually making a single appearance for the Old Trafford outfit.

'Chelsea have every right to do what is right for their club, just as we have every right to do what is right for us,' he said.

'I did not say their transfer policy was bad for the game. It is clearly good for Chelsea.

'But, if it is correct they are going to sign 30 African boys, you have to wonder how they are all going to get a game.'

United wrap up their successful three-match South Africa tour in the Vodacom Cup final against Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria tomorrow.

The game is a rematch of the meeting between the sides in Cape Town on Tuesday, which the Red Devils won with a late strike from Dong Fangzhou.