RED DEVILS PLAN SOLANO BID
By Adam Marshall. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
MANCHESTER UNITED have contacted Premiership rivals Newcastle with a view to bringing Nolberto Solano to Old Trafford.
The move will stun the Toon Army but Sir Alex Ferguson has earmarked the Peruvian international as the ideal player to fit in on the right-hand side of his midfield.
Ferguson`s interest does not necessarily mean that David Beckham will be sold, as some newspapers are certain to speculate, because, not only can the England star be employed in a central role, but there is no adequate cover for him within the United squad.
Indeed, Jonathan Greening is perhaps the only obvious alternative option in that position, and he has been placed on the transfer list. Paul Scholes replaced Beckham in the right-sided slot against Leeds and, although industrious as ever, he did look a little like a fish out of water.
A £5 million offer is reckoned to be imminent, according to reports in the North East, and the Premiership`s top goal assist provider will be flattered by the attention from the Treble winners.
Solano`s future at St James` Park is unclear after his row with Bobby Robson over the diminutive playmaker`s involvement in the recent Gold Cup competition with his country, despite carrying a thigh injury.
Publicly, Robson is maintaining that Solano will stay with The Magpies, stating: "It has never been in my mind to make him available and he figures in my long-term plans. He had a hiccup and he paid for it.
"He went to the Gold Cup and came home the wrong way. But he hasn`t got a chip on his shoulder and he has been very bright since his return. He`s fit and bears no grudges because he`s a fantastic professional."
Solano himself has also distanced himself from talk that he will be leaving Tyneside, with Real Madrid long-term admirers of the 25-year-old.
"I don`t want to make anything of that," he admitted. "If Real want to contact me they`ll have to come through the club but I`m for Newcastle now."
The reality of the situation is that the man affectionately known as `Nobby` in Newcastle is not tied down to a long-term deal at the club, and the plc may find it difficult to resist a major offer.
Surely, it would take more than £5 million to ensure that Solano becomes the first player to quit St James` Park for Old Trafford since Andy Cole`s sensational switch in January, 1995.
However, United are looking to consolidate their position at the summit of the English game by reinforcing their already impressive ranks. Jerzy Dudek, the Feyenoord keeper, could yet arrive before the transfer deadline at the end of the month, although Ferguson may wait until the end of the campaign before re-assessing his goalkeeping situation.