Manchester United legend Paul Scholes’ return followed failed attempts to bring Chelsea’s Frank Lampard to Old Trafford

Red Devils' chief executive David Gill led an audacious attempt to sign the disillusioned midfielder but was told that the 33-year-old would not be sold to the Blues' title rivals
By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent

Paul Scholes came out of retirement after Manchester United conceded defeat in their attempts to sign Frank Lampard from Chelsea last week, can reveal.

United announced the 37-year-old’s shock comeback ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup victory over rivals City in which Scholes played the final 31 minutes after coming on as a substitute. understands Scholes, who initially retired at the end of last season, was registered as a United player with the FA on Friday morning.

It came less than 24 hours after United chief executive David Gill held a second conversation of the week with Chelsea officials over an audacious move for Lampard.

United made an approach for Lampard after being encouraged by third parties that the 33-year-old was interested in a move to Old Trafford. Lampard has a poor relationship with Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas and is unhappy at no longer being an automatic starter in his 11th season at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea, however, told Gill in no uncertain terms on Thursday that they were not prepared to sell Lampard to a rival this month, forcing United to look elsewhere for midfield reinforcements.

The response from Chelsea puts into context comments made by Sir Alex Ferguson on Friday, when he quashed suggestions that Lampard could switch to United this month.

Targetted | Manchester United pursued Lampard but saw their efforts rebuffed

He said: "Do you really think Chelsea would sell to United in January?

"There's no foundation in that. Chelsea want to do something in the second half of the season so they want to keep their best players."

By that stage, United were already in the process of re-registering Scholes until the end of the season after a week of discussions concerning a possible return. The United legend had been considering a return for a month and told Ferguson he felt he could contribute to a squad short of quality midfielders and ravaged by injuries.

Ferguson decided to accept Scholes back into the fold until the end of the season and will ignore calls from United fans to spend on a top class central midfielder this month.

Sources have told that the Scot’s top target in the summer will be Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric, who was the subject of a failed £40m million bid from Chelsea on the last day of the summer window.

United could also look to renew their interest in Lampard in the summer but one player who is not on Ferguson’s shortlist is Newcastle midfielder Cheikh Tiote. Various reports have linked the Ivorian with a switch to Old Trafford but it is believed Ferguson is not interested in making a bid.

Before Scholes' comeback, United had appeared short of midfielders as they compete with Manchester City for the Premier League title, with the likes of Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley sidelined and Ferguson appearing to lack faith in teenage stars Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba.

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