Last updated : 27 May 2007 By Ed
From the Mail on Sunday

Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to test Barcelona's weakening resolve to hang on to £25million-rated striker Samuel Eto'o.

Talks have been held between Manchester United and the Spanish giants amid persistent rumours of a rift between the Cameroon international and Barca's Brazilian pin-up, Ronaldinho.

Last week Eto'o infuriated the local media, upset his team-mates and exasperated club officials by saying he would consider moving to rivals Real Madrid and by railing against malign forces at the Nou Camp.

With the title race reaching a climax and with Barca and Real on equal points at the top of the table, the latest comments from Eto'o were seen as even more inflammatory than normal.

He is under contract until 2010 but implied that his troubles at Barca could force an exit this summer. Eto'o said: "The person in the squad with whom I have most affinity these days is the kit man.

"We really need to root out the muck-rakers in our dressing room.

"From day one they have wanted to make it Ronaldinho against Eto'o. We have to get rid of the people that throw s**t around the dressing room. And he added pointedly: "If one day I'm a problem for Barcelona, I will leave."

The key to that may be whether Arsenal are prepared to part company with Thierry Henry.

If Barca can secure that promise from those close to Henry, they would allow Eto'o to leave.