Thuram and Samuel on Fergie hit-list
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Classy defender Thuram is likely to leave Juventus, and the prospect of joining the French colony in Manchester appeals to the 30-year-old.
After losing out to Juve when trying to buy the World Cup winner from Parma last year, Ferguson is hopeful of going one better this time around with the prospect of Fabien Barthez, Mikael Silvestre, Thuram and Laurent Blanc all playing in the same defence, providing the latter agrees to postpone his retirement.
Juve are competing with Milan for the signature of Fabio Cannavaro, and Milan may switch their sights to Thuram if they miss out on the Italian international, as the transfer market frenzy starts in earnest.
However, it is understood that Thuram has already made clear his intention to quit Stadio delle Alpi, with Old Trafford his favoured destination.
A é¼30 million deal could even be struck as early as next Tuesday, as Ferguson looks to get some of his transfer business concluded ahead of the World Cup.
Yet Italian sources also claim United have asked to be kept informed of Samuel's situation at Roma.
The Argentinian international is in talks over a new contract at Stadio Olimpico, but Real Madrid and United are both hovering in the background.
At 24, the powerful centre back is the sort of player who can stiffen The Red Devils' backline for many years to come, and it does look as though Ferguson is willing to make a number of changes to his defence with Denis Irwin and Ronny Johnsen definitely leaving.
Furthermore, there does seem to be a tendency for the deposed champions to be looking at international team-mates of Juan Sebastian Veron.
Whether there will be a conscious effort to help persuade the midfielder to give English football at least another year, with one of his pals being drafted in, remains to be seen.
Yet Hernan Crespo, Roberto Ayala and now Samuel, along with a couple of Argentinian keepers, have all attracted interest from Ferguson.
Veron, whose link with a return to Lazio refuses to go away, has seemed to give his first hint for some time that a move back to biancoceleste is not as cut and dried as the Italian press have believed.
"Cragnotti wants me in Lazio?" he enquired. "Well, he already had me last year."
Ferguson's determination to show that his record signing can make his mark in The Premiership should result in the club resisting the pressure to sell the South American playmaker, but it seems likely that the final say may be with the player himself.