MANCHESTER UNITED have finally agreed a club record £10 million fee with PSV Eindhoven for Dutch international Jaap Stam.PSV, reluctant to sell Stam, who was under contract with them until 2003, had turned down two previous offers from the Old Trafford club for Stam, whom they had originally valued at £15 million. But they are still to receive a World-record fee for a defender.
``We've agreed terms with Eindhoven, but we've not finalised the paperwork and so we've not signed him just yet,'' said United director Maurice Watkins.
``The deal is very well advanced and now it's a case of documenting the discussions between the clubs and agreeing personal terms with the player. We hope he will come over to Old Trafford later this week to discuss personal terms and go through the various other matters which needed to be completed.''
News of the transfer ends weeks of negotiations between the clubs for Holland's Player of the Year.
Stam, 25, was so desperate to move to Old Trafford that he offered to waive his 15 per cent cut of the transfer fee and it is understood that this has helped to bring the deal about.
Ferguson sees Stam as key to his plans for next season and his arrival is sure to cast question marks over some of the centre-halves already at Old Trafford.
Gary Pallister had been linked with a move to his former club Middlesbrough, while Norwegian Henning Berg reckons he may be on the way out.
Meanwhile, United are refusing to hoist the white flag over Old Trafford even though Arsenal are within touching distance of the title.
The champions will attempt to keep what little pressure they can on the league leaders when they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tonight (8.0pm).
United, who are four points behind Arsene Wenger's Gunners and have also played a game more, must win to keep alive whatever faint hopes they have of snatching the title from Arsenal's grasp. If they lose the Gunners could be crowned champions on Wednesday night when they take on Derby at Highbury.
THE fat lady may be warming up in the wings, but United striker Teddy Sheringham claims they are determined not to give up until all is lost.
He said: ``We have to keep plugging away and there is no way that we'll be giving up. We're not dead and buried by any means.
``We still feel that we've got half a chance. It's an outside chance you never know. It's still 11 players against 11 players and if we were in Arsenal's position we would not be thinking that it was all over.''
Trips to Selhurst Park have become the away banker of the season and victory for United will send them straight back to the First Division. The bottom-placed Eagles have won just once in front of their home fans and Sheringham accepts that United must add to their misery.
``This is a game that we have to win and one that we're expected to win,'' he said. ``That puts pressure on us, but we have to go out and do just that.''
Utility man Ronny Johnsen misses tonight's game, and United's other two remaining fixtures, because he is having a cartilage operation tomorrow.
Peter Schmeichel hopes to recover from his nagging hamstring injury to be fit for the match.
Palace striker Matt Jansen is doubtful with an ankle injury and so may miss facing the club he snubbed when he left Carlisle.
CRYSTAL PALACE (20) v MAN UTD (2)
Last season: No corresponding fixtures. Last five League matches: Crystal Palace WLLLW, Man Utd LWWDD. Top scorers: Jansen (Crystal Palace) 15; Cole (Man Utd) 23. Match odds: H 4-1; A 1-2; D 3-1. Ref: P Jones (Loughborough).