Sir Alex Ferguson will go into a weekend of potentially huge significance for the title race, not only hoping to extend Manchester United's six-point advantage over Chelsea but to put an end to the long-running transfer saga involving Owen Hargreaves. Ferguson said last night that United had "hit a brick wall" but the club are hoping to break Bayern Munich's resolve after putting an offer in the region of £18m into writing.
One certainty is that Hargreaves does not need any more persuasion, the England international having sought to orchestrate his departure from Bayern with a concerted campaign through the media to make it clear he wants to play in the Premiership.
His stance has angered the Bayern officials, in particular the president Franz Beckenbauer and the general manager Uli Hoeness - perhaps justifiably given that he signed a new contract only last season. However, it did not stop Hargreaves making his feelings clear yet again last night. "Manchester United have such a talented team, such a great nucleus," he said. "Look at Rio [Ferdinand], Wazza [Wayne Rooney] and Cristiano Ronaldo. For a club like that to make an offer for me is something I appreciate."
* Reports in the press suggest that Bayern have said no and told United to return in the summer.