Last updated : 31 May 2007 By editor

The Times:

'Manchester United last night sent out a resounding statement of intent about their defence of the Barclays Premiership title by committing up to £35 million to sign two of the most promising young attacking talents in world football, Anderson and Nani, from FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon respectively.

'David Gill, the United chief executive, and Carlos Queiroz, the assistant manager, met delegations from both clubs in Portugal, culminating in agreements that were announced on the club's website last night. Anderson, a 19-year-old Brazilian playmaker in the Ronaldinho mould, will join for a fee that could rise to £17.5 million and a similar deal has been agreed for Nani, 20, a winger who has drawn comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo since United's interest was first revealed in The Times in September.

'Anderson, who has yet to make his full debut for Brazil, will require a work permit, but he is expected to be given special dispensation given that he is in his country's plans for the forthcoming Copa America.

'The initial outlay on Anderson and Nani is understood to be considerably less than the projected £17.5 million fee, which will be dependent on the players' success at Old Trafford, but it remains a remarkable investment after the relative parsimony of the first two years under the Glazer regime.'


'Manchester United last night delivered a stunning statement of their intent to retain the Premiership title next season by potentially taking their summer outlay beyond the £50m mark after moving swiftly to agree deals in principle to sign the Sporting Lisbon winger Nani and Porto's Anderson, two of the most coveted rising talents in Portugal.

'According to the selling clubs, the total fees to secure Nani, 20, and Anderson, an 18-year-old Brazilian winger, could rise to as much €50m (£35m) with appearances and honours over the course of their contracts which, allied with Owen Hargreaves' imminent arrival from Bayern Munich for £17m, represents the most lavish spending of the Glazer era at Old Trafford to date. United's initial outlay to buy the pair from Portugal is more likely to be around £15m.

'The trio of signings will send shockwaves through the Premiership. While Chelsea could match such financial clout if they desired, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool and Arsenal can match such spending power. Indeed, not since Wayne Rooney's arrival in the autumn of 2004 for an initial £20m have United spent this much to refresh their playing squad.

'The implications for the chasing pack may be grim, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be celebrating something of a coup in the market. Nani, a long-standing target for United, had made his intentions clear to seek a new challenge having rejected the opportunity to extend his current contract at Sporting. The Premiership champions faced a second struggle with Tottenham Hotspur to secure his signature but, where they lost out to the Londoners over the £10m Wales international Gareth Bale last week, they moved quickly yesterday to ensure they did not endure similar disappointment over Nani.

'The winger has been bought as a long-term successor to Ryan Giggs, who retired from international football yesterday, and is happiest operating down the left, with the 20-year-old keen to emulate his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at Old Trafford. Sporting had hoped to persuade Ferguson to allow Nani to remain at the club on loan next season. The youngster is considered the most exciting homegrown forward to have emerged in Portugal since Ronaldo, with Sporting only reluctantly conceding they could not keep him.'