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Manchester United are believed to have inquired about Fulham’s Senegal international midfielder Pape Bouba Diop, although they were not willing to meet the £8m asking price.

It is understood that a representative for United sounded out Fulham last month about their valuation of the 27-year-old midfielder, who joined the London club from Lens in July 2004 and has 2½ years left on his contract. United, though, cooled their interest when they learned that Fulham would be looking for £1.5m more than the £6.5m figure they had in mind.

Since then Sir Alex Ferguson has spent £13m on Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra. The United manager has also signalled that there will be no more arrivals until the summer. Equally, with Diop away on international duty at the African Nations Cup it appears highly unlikely that he will leave Craven Cottage before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

United may well seek to resurrect a deal at the end of the season, with Ferguson anxious to fill the void left by Roy Keane’s departure. Diop, given his domineering presence and combative style, which have earned him the nickname “the Wardrobe”, might be regarded as a natural successor to the former United captain.

He also has a decent goal ratio, scoring nine times in his 52 Fulham appearances. He has not played Champions League football, though he has considerable international experience, including appearing in the 2002 World Cup where he scored the goal in Senegal’s victory over France.