Tue, Jan 09, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Larsson must decide on United stay, Swedes say

FA CUPA delighted Alex Ferguson compared Henrik Larsson to the talismanic Eric Cantona after the Swedish striker scored a dream debut for Man United on Sunday

AGENCIES , LONDON

Manchester United's Henrik Larsson, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring the first goal against Aston Villa during their FA Cup third-round soccer match at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Henrik Larsson's 10-week loan to Manchester United could be extended, the Swedish striker's club said yesterday after his goalscoring debut at the weekend.

The 35-year-old former Barcelona and Celtic striker joined United from his hometown club, Helsingborg, on Jan. 1 in a deal that is scheduled to end in March. The Swedish season starts in April.

But Helsingborg chairman Sten-Inge Fredrin made it clear they would not stand in Larsson's way, telling Sky Sports: "If Manchester want to have him for longer it's up to Henrik, in the first moment, to tell us if that is what he wants too."

"After that, we have to see if there is a possibility of a solution between the clubs. I'm willing to sit down and have a discussion, but the basic thing is that we want to have him on March 12," Fredrin said.

Larsson showed the former international had not lost his touch when he opened the scoring with a well-taken opportunist goal in Sunday's 2-1 FA Cup third round win over Aston Villa.

"I think he has at least two or three years more at the level he is today," Fredrin said. "He is unique at his age, he is one of the players in Europe and who can go into any team and play well."

Leaving the door open to United manager Alex Ferguson, who compared Larsson to former Old Trafford favorite Eric Cantona on Sunday, Fredrin added: "He's welcome to give a call if he has an idea to keep him longer."

Delighted with Larsson's performance, Ferguson told MUTV: "He has scored important goals throughout his career and I think he'll do the same for us."

"I always said that about Eric Cantona -- whenever he scored, they always seemed to be important goals and I expect Henrik will score some important ones for us too," Ferguson said.

Larsson himself was thrilled by the Old Trafford atmosphere, saying: "That's what you want to play football in, and in front of as many people as possible. Here, there was over 70,000 and it was fantastic."

As for his future, a cautious Larsson was quoted as telling the Times yesterday: "It is all ifs and I am just taking one match at a time at the moment."

The former Sweden striker was involved in most of United's best attacking forays and has become an instant hit with the club's support.

Larsson and Rooney appeared to have a natural understanding on the pitch.

Czech Republic forward Milan Baros threatened to ruin Larsson's big day with an equalizer before substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had replaced Larsson, popped up with a stoppage time winner to make it a day to remember for United's latest signing.

Ferguson admitted his Premiership leaders had settled for a replay before Solskjaer's clincher in the dying seconds of the tie.

"We deserved to go through because some of our football was fantastic," Ferguson added. "But I was thinking about a replay when Ole popped up. Ole's fantastic -- that's his ninth goal for us this season."

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