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United and Tottenham's transfer rivalry is about to get more intense

Man Utd vs Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final is a fixture that pits two teams together who are rivals off the pitch rather than on it

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United and Tottenham's transfer rivalry is about to get more intense

Man Utd vs Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final is a fixture that pits two teams together who are rivals off the pitch rather than on it

20 April 2018 Friday 14:08
United and Tottenham's transfer rivalry is about to get more intense

Tottenham may stock up on water and milk ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final to dissuade Jose Mourinho from approaching their dressing room.

Mourinho often enters opponents' quarters after games, be it to congratulate them or demand they turn the volume down on the iPod, and Mauricio Pochettino voiced his dismay at Mourinho making a beeline for Eric Dier last season.

"Mourinho and I had finished our interviews at Old Trafford and the players were doing their warm-down on the pitch," Pochettino wrote in his book Brave New World. "When Jose was done with the press, he stood by the entrance to the tunnel and regarded the returning players.

"He greeted Moussa Sissoko and hugged Dier. They passed by me en route to the dressing rooms, laughing, speaking in Portuguese. Maybe it is a common Mourinho tactic, but he put Eric in a compromising position. You cannot do that after a defeat."

The irony is Pochettino made a beeline for Luke Shaw at Spurs and United's Under-23 meeting in August, where Mourinho was not present and United coach Tommy Martin appeared visibly unimpressed and ushered Shaw into the dressing room.

Shaw contributed to Pochettino's book and his first sentence recalls their 'first hug'. It is unlikely he has received many embraces from Mourinho.

"I don't know if it is Mauricio's words or it is his ghost writer's," Mourinho said in October.

"Maybe it is to try and sell books. Maybe his ghost writer wants to make some money. What I do know is that every season, during the summer, before every season he calls me and I call Mauricio and we ask about each other's players to see if they are or not available."

Pochettino's hypocrisy has ensured United and Tottenham's off-pitch rivalry continues to simmer. Dier was deriding the 'traitor' Kyle Walker for leaving Spurs in an Instagram Live video on England duty in September filmed by Dele Alli until his former club teammate exposed his hypocrisy.

"It was alright when you wanted to go to United," Walker replied. Alli unsurprisingly deleted the video but thousands had clocked the exchange.

Mourinho had identified Dier as his preferred defensive midfield target last summer, with Nemanja Matic his next option.

Dier was 'desperate' to make the move but it is understood his representatives were timid in their efforts to force through a move.

United had agreed personal terms with Matic as early as May, mindful of Dier's desire to leave Spurs and prepared to double the England midfielder's salary. Tottenham refused to sell and their chairman Daniel Levy was described as a 'nightmare'.

It is believed Dier privately intimated he wanted to leave but did not rock the boat publicly.

Danny Rose, smarting from Walker's Manchester City switch and conscious of United's interest in him as a replacement for Luke Shaw, did.

Rose pined for United with that frank interview with The Sun on the eve of the new season and was fined by Spurs, but spoke for the majority of his teammates. United are still mulling over options to replace Shaw.

Rose and Dier both wanted to join United last year


Northern soul Rose would walk to Manchester and United are also prepared to bid for Toby Alderweireld, whose situation is mirroring Walker's at Spurs 12 months ago.

Alderweireld played his first game in two months at Brighton on Tuesday and his absence has been more of an exile as he refuses to change his stance on a new contract.

The 29-year-old's deal expires next year but Spurs have the option of an extension, only that would trigger a £25million release clause. Selling Alderweireld this summer is inevitable.

Spurs move into their new stadium later this year and the cost of the White Hart Lane project has soared from £400m to £1billion.

The club sold Walker to City for £54m and Alderweireld, who has appeared only 18 times for the FA Cup semi-finalists, is the ideal annual big-name sale.

Alderweireld is that rare thing; an attainable Tottenham player.

Following those raft of new deals the club announced last term, some are tied to the club until the 2022 World Cup, but that old adage about a year being a lifetime in football is applicable with Spurs.

Alderweireld's compatriots Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele are also out of contract next year and Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min's are up in 2020.

Vertonghen and Eriksen were named in the PFA Team of the Year on Wednesday and both would more than double their salary at an elite competitor like City or United.

United admire Son, 25, and there are obvious commercial perks for a South Korean footballer joining a club with enormous appeal in Asia, never mind United's need for a natural winger to balance their attack.

United's quandary, even with a player as seemingly available as Alderweireld, is Tottenham's chairman is Levy.

Sir Alex Ferguson lamented Michael Carrick's 2006 'negotiations were very difficult and went on for ages.

I thought it was done and [former chief executive] David Gill phoned me on the golf course to say they want more. Typical Daniel Levy!' United have not signed anyone from Spurs since Dimitar Berbatov on transfer deadline day in 2008, a deal confirmed 40 minutes after the window closed.

Levy did his utmost to ensure Berbatov moved to Manchester - but City.

The Abu Dhabi United Group's takeover of City was ratified on deadline day and by the end of it the club had signed Robinho for a British record fee, and bid for Berbatov and David Villa.

The Berbatov saga became so dramatic he was met by United officials at Manchester Airport and whisked away amid briefings from Spurs they had not given the Bulgarian permission to speak with them.

A genuinely compelling deadline day ended with Berbatov filmed behind Old Trafford's glass windows two-and-a-half hours before the window closed.

Berbatov had undergone a medical at Carrington but the first transfer faxes sent were sent at 11pm.

"It was down to the boy’s decision," City manager Mark Hughes said. Jaunty United fans sang 'Dimitar Berbatov, one look at City and he said f*** off,' to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Levy enjoyed a measure of revenge in 2013 when he encouraged United to gazump Real Madrid's offer for Gareth Bale.

United outbid Real with an £86m offer but had naively failed to touch base with Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett. A mere phone call would have informed them that Bale had his heart set on moving to Madrid as early as March that year.

Ferguson belatedly warned Ed Woodward negotiating with Levy was 'more painful replacement than my hip replacement'. There was also the Zeki Fryers issue.

Fryers, who inexplicably started more United games than Paul Pogba in 2011-12, joined Standard Liege for £250,000 at the end of the campaign after Tottenham failed to negotiate a deal with United. Had Spurs bought the Mancunian directly from United, a Premier League tribunal would have awarded United around £5m in compensation, yet Spurs paid Standard just £900,000.

Fryers is now at Barnsley after he failed to make a single league start in three years at Crystal Palace but has come to symbolise the friction between United and Spurs. Ferguson wailed: "There will be a trail, mobile phone [records] or something... It's a Daniel Levy deal. You know, it's his fingerprints all over it. It's the kind of thing we expected he was going to do."

M.E.N.

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