Manchester United made their first transfer move of the summer last night when they joined the pursuit of Marseilles’ talented midfielder Franck Rib�ry.
United‘s chief executive, David Gill, is understood to have made a verbal offer of �9m for the 23-year-old in a telephone conversation with the Marseilles president, Pape Diouf, yesterday, although he may have to call back with the promise of an extra �3m before the French club entertain the idea of parting with their prized asset.
A late inclusion in the French World Cup squad, Rib�ry is unsettled at Marseilles and anxious to leave following the recent departure of manager Jean Fernandez to Auxerre.
Rib�ry is currently the subject of a bitter dispute between Marseilles and the French champions Lyon after the latter’s chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, was accused of tapping up the winger at an awards ceremony last week where he was named France’s Young Player of the Year.
“I’ve given them [United] the same answer as I gave to Lyon and, although United are stubborn and may try again, that is Rib�ry is not available,” Diouf said to the Daily Mail.
The Marseilles president has claimed it would take an offer of �45m (�30.8m) for him to sell Rib�ry, who is under contract until 2010, but with the player agitating for a move a more realistic price is �12m. United remain confident of landing the midfielder ahead of the World Cup.