African ace in Lazio link

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REPORTS in Italy suggest Lazio are keeping tabs on Vitesse Arnhem's highly-rated midfielder Mahamadou Diarra.

The 20-year-old Mali international has been earning rave reviews in recent weeks for his displays in De Eredivisie and also at international level.

He was one of the stars of the African Cup of Nations as he played a pivotal role in guiding the hosts to the semi-finals.

His prodigious talents have not gone unnoticed by the Serie A giants while Manchester United have also been monitoring his progress with Vitesse.

Meanwhile, further stories in Italy indicate Jason Ferguson, son of United boss Sir Alex, held a meeting with one of Lazio striker Hernan Crespo's representatives.

Ferguson is believed to have been in Rome for discussions with Fernando Hidalgo, who is assistant to Crespo's agent Gustavo Mascardi.

The same man is also Crespo's comptriot Juan Sebastian Veron's agent and a meeting between Ferguson and Hidalgo has added further weight to rumours that United are keen to lure the Argentine striker to Old Trafford to pair him with Ruud van Nistelrooy.