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Saturday, January 17, 2009
Sir Alex admits money talks as City splash out

As Manchester United have tended to be among the biggest spenders throughout Ferguson's illustrious 22-year Old Trafford reign, the Scot has always been aware of the value a hefty chequebook can bring to transfer negotiations.

However, even United have never offered the kind of astronomical sums local rivals Manchester City are ready to give Brazilian superstar Kaka to quit AC Milan.

Although Milan are not what they once were, the seven-times European Cup winners are still regarded as a major global force and certainly vastly superior to City, who are currently two points off the relegation zone and have been knocked out of both domestic cup competitions by lower-league opposition.

Yet Kaka might be willing to swap life in Italy for the rainy north-west, which leaves Ferguson in little doubt about the conclusion he draws from the possible 108million mega-transfer.

"It tells you money counts,'' reflected the United boss. "I find it hard to get my head round to be honest. It is amazing.

"From time to time you get shocks and surprises. This is surprising everyone.''

It is not the team doing the buying that has caught him off guard, or even the fact AC Milan appear willing to sell.

For Ferguson, it is the sheer enormity of the sum, well over double the most any club has paid for a player in the history of the game - Zinedine Zidane's move from Juventus to Real Madrid for 48million in 2001 - that has left him stunned.

It might not be the end either as City close in on Hamburg's Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong, who quite probably, became even more attracted to the idea of joining the Blues once he knew who one of his team-mates was likely to be.

"It would be a statement of intent,'' said Ferguson of the Kaka approach. "That is probably the thinking with Robinho first and Kaka next. It can encourage other players to join.''

Ferguson is reluctant to put a timescale on City's ascent to the top of the English game. Indeed, he is not paying too much attention to them.

His attitude is not born out of disrespect, more an acknowledgement of where United's current challenges come from.

"The fact is they are not where Liverpool or Chelsea are and we have to look at the teams around us,'' said Ferguson. "You can only worry about the ones who are taking the trophy off you.

"For years, Arsenal and ourselves contested every league for years. All I was interested in was what the Arsenal result was, whether they had suffered any injuries or suspensions and when we played them.

"Arsenal will come back. They will make a fist of it this season. I have no doubt about that. Now we have Chelsea and Liverpool as well.''

What City will inevitably present one day should their Abu Dhabi-based owners remain in control, is a challenge.

If Kaka does sign, it may come next season. If not, it will be at some point in the future when, maybe, Ferguson has called time on his illustrious career.

Then it will fall to his successor, who must uphold United traditions by meeting the challenge head on.

"It doesn't matter where it comes from, we have to accept that challenge, if we don't you are not Manchester United,'' said Ferguson. "We don't get our own way all the time. That is fine.

"But we have to be aware of the challenge and know what we are going to do about it. We have to be in there, pitching away, to make sure we are one of the best.''

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