Sir Alex: We were interested in signing Vieira

August 2, 2006

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he expressed an interest in signing Patrick Vieira.

The former Arsenal midfielder has now moved on to Inter Milan from Juventus, following their relegation from Serie A as punishment for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

Ferguson said: 'The Italian situation was interesting because everyone wanted to find out what would happen.

'Once they were relegated, Juventus were the club everyone wanted to target.

'Milan were not affected by the ruling and their players were not leaving.

'Patrick Vieira was someone we considered but I understand he has accepted a really good deal from Inter Milan, so that is the end of it.'

In the meantime United have secured the services of midfielder Michael Carrick from Tottenham - he was unveiled on Wednesday - for a fee that could reach £18.6million and Ferguson made it clear he hopes to further strengthen his squad in that area.

'The midfield area was something that we maybe had to bolster,' said Ferguson.

'We kept saying about replacing Roy Keane and that kind of thing, you can't replace Roy Keane, we've been trying for five years.'

Ferguson is looking for Carrick to bring his passing game to the United midfield.

'Michael's an excellent footballer and a very, very good passer of the ball,' Ferguson told a press conference.

'The good thing is he's been playing English football. He went into a West Ham team very young and most players who come through West Ham get a good education.'

Ferguson revealed he could sign another player before the start of the Premiership season.

He added: 'We may bring in another one anyway.'

Ferguson felt it was impossible to directly compare Carrick with midfield general Keane, who left the club by mutual consent last November.

'Roy was a possession player, a straightforward A to B passer,' Ferguson said.

'Michael is a far more inventive passer of the ball, but the most important thing to mention is keeping possession.'

Carrick insisted he felt no pressure to live up to Keane, whose number 16 shirt he has inherited.

'People are always going to talk about Roy, he is one of the legends in the game, but I'm on my own man and (replacing him) not something I'm focused on. I'm focused on my own game and that's the best way to go for me.

'Once I heard United were involved (in trying to sign him) I wanted to come, simple as that. It's a terrific club and I just wanted to come and improve my game, achieve things and win trophies.

'It's an awesome set-up and I'm settling in pretty quickly. Everyone has been great, the backroom staff have been superb. I'm delighted to be here now and I'm just looking forward to playing my first game.'

United chief executive David Gill also defended the transfer fee paid for Carrick, revealing the basic fee was £14million rising to £18.6million depending on the success of the club and the player.

'The figure of £18.6million has been bandied around, but that is the maximum we have to pay for Michael, we have to achieve success as a team and Michael has to be successful personally. The figure is £14million and that is appropriate.

'There is a premium on English players but we are very comfortable with the fee, we have got a great player at a great price.'