Duscher enters frame as United stay on Carrick trail

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The Independent Online

Manchester United are still confident of landing the midfielder Michael Carrick despite the £14m valuation that Tottenham have placed on the player, but they are maintaining an interest in the Lyon midfielder Mahamadou Diarra and the Argentinian Aldo Duscher at Deportivo La Coruña.

United's strategy of recruiting two holding midfielders as a long-term replacement for Roy Keane appears to centre upon them bidding for Duscher to put pressure on Lyon and Tottenham to come to agreement. United would be happy with any two of the three but their first- choice pairing would be Carrick and Diarra.

Both players have been set at prohibitively high prices by their respective clubs with some sources even suggesting that Lyon want £20m for Diarra. This is a common problem that United encounter when buying players in Europe and they are determined to let the two clubs know that they have other options if necessary.

Diarra is highly prized but realistically would only be affordable to United, or Real Madrid, among those who have also shown an interest in him. United believe that they can buy him for much less than Lyon are asking, although bringing the French champions to the negotiating table is proving to be more difficult.

Duscher has been the subject of long-term interest from United. The Argentinian hardman attracted notoriety in England four years ago when he broke David Beckham's metatarsal in a Champions' League match and was nicknamed "Dirty Duscher" in the tabloid press. He would represent a cheaper option.

United hope to close a deal for Carrick this week. The 24-year-old has had plenty of time to discuss a move to Old Trafford with his United England team-mates this week and they are likely to have been most persuasive. He has two years left on his contract with Tottenham but is not likely to get the kind of deal his status now demands.

Spurs will also look to the highly-regarded Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora, 25, who plays for St-Etienne. Zokora was especially impressive against Argentina in his country's 2-1 defeat and will add value to his price the longer the Ivory Coast stay in the World Cup.

Tottenham have strong links with St-Etienne through their sporting director Damien Comolli and would hope to have first refusal.

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