Veteran Larsson relishing Man United test

December 20, 2006

Henrik Larsson has admitted he could not turn down the chance to join Manchester United.

The former Sweden international has signed a loan deal which will tie him to the Red Devils from the beginning of January to March 12.

Currently on a week's training at United's Carrington base prior to returning to Sweden for the festive period, Larsson is itching to get started, probably in an FA Cup tie against an Aston Villa side managed by his old boss at Celtic Martin O'Neill on January 7.

Having signalled the end of his career at Barcelona by winning the Champions League last May before joining hometown team Helsingborgs, it seemed highly unlikely Larsson would ever be seen in a major league again.

However, through an initial contact between United and Helsingborgs' Scottish coach Stuart Baxter, Larsson was presented with a belated opportunity to show off his talents on the Premiership stage.

'When I heard about this loan deal I just thought it was a chance I could not say no to,' said Larsson, who cannot play against Newcastle on New Year's Day because his registration will not have been processed.

'I did have opportunities to move to the Premiership when I was at Celtic but my family was settled in Glasgow, which is the reason I did not come down.

'But I am 35 now, I do not think this opportunity will come around another time. I wouldn't get the chance to join such a big club again.

'I had to discuss the situation with my family but as soon as I had cleared it with them, there was no problem.'

Larsson's family will join him for short spells during his time in England but it appears there is no chance the loan period will be extended, no matter what position United find themselves in when the time comes for the veteran striker to return.

It means Larsson will be available for seven Premiership games - including the trips to Arsenal and Liverpool - all FA Cup ties up to and including the quarter-final stage and both legs of the Champions League knock-out phase clash with Lille.

'It is difficult but Helsingborgs have been good to us with this deal and we have to be fair with them,' confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson.

When the deal was announced last month, Larsson suggested his stint in England would be 'a bit of fun'.

However, with Chelsea having cut United's lead at the Barclays Premiership summit to just two points on Sunday, he accepts there is a serious side to his job.

'I am fully aware of how important this period is for the club,' he said.

'Manchester United are a great club, with a big history and a great tradition. It feels really good to be here and hopefully I can help them.

'It is always difficult coming into a new club but everything has felt okay so far. It is quite an exciting prospect to be able to play with so many world-class players.'