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Man Utd too good to turn down, says Larsson

20 December 2006 15:25

MANCHESTER, Dec 20 (AFP) - Henrik Larsson has admitted the prospect of joining Manchester United at a crucial stage of the season was too good a chance to turn down.

The Swede, 35, trained with his new team-mates for the first time this week after United manager Sir Alex Ferguson struck a shock, short-term deal with Helsingborgs for the striker to spend the Swedish winter break at Old Trafford.

With Larsson apparently set on winding down his career in his home country after turning his back on former club Barcelona last summer, the player's arrival in England has come as a major surprise.

But the player - who will be available from January 2nd until his return to Sweden on March 12th - insisted he couldn't resist the opportunity to join United's double assault on the Premiership and the Champions League.

"It's a great club with a big history and traditions so it feels really good to be here," Larsson said Wednesday.

"Obviously I had to have a discussion with the family as well because I moved back to Sweden in the summer so I had to have a chat with them and see how they felt about coming over and as soon as that was clear with the family then there was no problem.

"I saw it as a great challenge to come over here to play for a great club and a big club.

"When I was in Scotland with Celtic me and my family were very settled and that was part of the reason we didn't come down here at the time.

"Also we had a good team at Celtic as well. But now when I heard about this loan deal with Manchester United this was a chance I couldn't say no to.

"I'm 35 years old and I don't think I'll get another chance to join such a big club.

"But I'm not just here to enjoy myself. I obviously understand how important all of this is so there's no question it's an important time and I'm fully aware of that."

Larsson, who will wear the number 17 shirt, will make his debut in the FA Cup third round against Aston Villa on January 7 but is confident he will slot in quickly to his new surroundings.

The Swede was in the stands at Upton Park last Sunday when United lost at West Ham United, allowing Premiership title rivals Chelsea to close the gap at the head of the table to just two points, and insists he has not demanded any assurances about the role he will play during his stay.

"The manager decides where and when he is going to play me so that has never been problem," he added.

"I know what I'm here for so hopefully I can do that. I trained on Monday with the guys who didn't play on Sunday and I felt okay. I know all of them, I've played against a few of them in the past and I've watched them on television.

"I'm obviously very excited because I have been seeing the players like Wayne Rooney on television and played against them in World Cup and I am looking forward to playing with them."

Both Ferguson and Larsson made it clear there was no possibility of the deal being extended beyond mid-March and while the manager admitted he will be disappointed to see his new player return to Sweden, he is adamant the striker will have a major say in the club's bid for honours.

"It will be difficult when he leaves but I think the reality is the job will have been done in terms of keeping us at the sharp end of all the competitions," Ferguson said.

"His arrival has already lifted the dressing room. When we announced it, a few players came up to me and said 'that was a good one, where did that one come from?'."

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