Larsson accepts United challenge

Manchester United FC are to sign Henrik Larsson on loan from 1 January until 12 March with the former Sweden striker then set to return to Helsingborgs IF.

'Such a big club'
"Sir Alex Ferguson called me last night and welcomed me to Manchester United," Larsson revealed. "I probably won't play every match from the start but for me, it feels like a very fun thing to contribute at such a late stage in my career. It feels nice to come and play for such a big club."

Attacking need
The 35-year-old former Swedish international left FC Barcelona in the summer to return to his homeland and former club Helsingborg. He went on to play 15 games, scoring eight goals and lifting the Swedish Cup, before the 2006 season concluded last month. Larsson is expected to be back in Sweden for the new Allsvenskan campaign starting in April. In the meantime, he will add much-needed fire power to a United squad that has only Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha available in attack.

'Terrific boost'
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "It's a terrific boost. Henrik has great pedigree and character. He also has goalscoring ability and can change games. We're very pleased." Helsingborg chairman Sten-Inge Fredrin said the move would help both sides. "We are very pleased with the deal but we won't go into numbers," he said.

Barça high
Larsson would be eligible for the UEFA Champions League knockout stage if registered, provided United make it through. Sir Alex's only other forward options are unavailable, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær injured, Alan Smith still working his way back to first-team contention and Italy Under-21 striker Giuseppe Rossi on loan at Newcastle United FC. Larsson, who has served Feyenoord and Celtic FC with distinction, left Barcelona on a high, ending a two-year stay with a key role as the club claimed the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League.