Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Butt Had Enough of Playing a Bit Part

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Butt Had Enough of Playing a Bit Part

Article excerpt


NICKY BUTT is set to leave Manchester United after his transfer request was accepted by Sir Alex Ferguson.

The midfielder, who is 29 next week, still has more than two years left on his current contract but he has lost his first-team place at Old Trafford this season.

Tottenham, Everton and Birmingham have been linked with a [pounds sterling]5million bid for the player, who made his United debut in 1992.

Manager Ferguson said: "Nicky has asked to leave, it is a very sad situation.

He has given us great service but he wants to play first-team football.

"With Phil Neville (moving into midfield) and the emergence of Darren Fletcher and Kleberson, it has made it difficult to get in the first team, so he has asked to leave."

Butt's reputation soared when he stood in for the injured Steven Gerrard in the England midfield during the 2002 World Cup and he was expected to play a key role at United this season following last summer's departures of David Beckham and Juan Sebastian Veron.

However, Butt, who has won 30 caps for his country, has been relegated to bit-part role in a campaign in which he has started only 11 of United's 31 competitive matches.

There have been rumours that Ferguson and Butt have barely spoken for months following a trainingground incident involving the midfielder and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Butt has made 372 senior appearance for United, behind only Ryan Giggs (571), Gary Neville (419), Roy Keane (417) and Paul Scholes (394) among the present squad.

Meanwhile, United last night confirmed that 18-year-old Chinese striker Dong Fangzhou is the latest addition to their squad.

They will make an initial [pounds sterling]500,000 down-payment for the youngster in a deal which could rise to [pounds sterling]3.5m. But

Dong will be forced to begin his United career on loan to Belgian feeder club Royal Antwerp as he does not yet qualify for a UK work permit.

The signing of Dong could be extremely beneficial to United from a commercial perspective because of the huge interest in the club in China. …

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