Last updated : 18 January 2004 By Editor

“Nicky is a great player and he's been a great servant to United.

"He's a player that can play at the highest level. If he comes to Spain, of course he'd fit in. He would strengthen any midfield in the world.

"I think United are wrong to let him go because he's homegrown talent and that's hard to come by.

"I'm sure anyone in Nicky's position would like first-team football and to play all the time because he's a fantastic player.

"But it's up to him to make that decision. I'm sure he would make the Real first team. He'd get a chance in any team."

He may not go anyway according to SAF:

"I don't think Nicky will leave immediately - and he may not leave at all. I had a good chat with the lad and understand his frustrations.

"I can understand Nicky's situation," he said. "And it's not an easy one considering the service he has given this club.

"He has been fairly regular in the team over the years but Phil Neville's form has been absolutely marvellous.

"It's difficult to handle that part when one player has emerged as well as Phil has, and another has given you the service Nicky has given you.

"Phil's form has been a help in allowing me to rest Roy Keane, but there have been other options anyway. Quinton Fortune and Nicky Butt are two of those. It's the beauty of having the collection of midfield players we have got.

"At the moment it's difficult to say whether we have the cover for Roy without Nicky. We have Eric Djemba-Djemba not back until February 24, and I have given Kleberson a little break back in Brazil for a week."