Last updated : 20 January 2003 By editor

‘There may be another South American joining Manchester United in the near future, if talks with representatives of Claudio López reach a successful conclusion, but the Lazio and Argentina forward may struggle to displace Diego Forlán in the affections of the Old Trafford crowd. Even when he was a laughing stock elsewhere, Forlán’s enthusiasm and perseverance earned him cult status among those who congregate on the old Stretford End. Now that his repertoire has been extended to include a series of vital goals, that heartfelt fondness has given way to a far deeper appreciation.

Even the day-trippers, who come in hope of witnessing a defining moment from David Beckham, recognise that Forlán’s goals — including those that are more routine than his stoppage-time winner against Chelsea on Saturday — are to be greeted with a fervour that none of his more renowned team-mates can generate. There is something hugely endearing about the Uruguayan, from his eager running to his habitually hapless shirt-stripping celebrations, even before one takes a more discerning look at his contribution for United, which now includes nine goals, many of them vital.

He remains less than the finished article, hence Sir Alex Ferguson’s interest in López, who may be available on a free transfer if Lazio fail to meet an imminent deadline to pay several months of outstanding wages.’