If United want Carrick, it might take Ruud and cash

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Sources at Tottenham stressed yesterday that no agreement had been reached and, privately, they are furious at the timing of the bid, which came on the eve of England's opening World Cup Group B game against Paraguay.

However, Carrick has just two years left on his contract at White Hart Lane and, so far, has not agreed the kind of long-term deal which has tied Robbie Keane, Ledley King, Michael Dawson and Jermaine Jenas to the club. Talks were expected to take place this summer but have not, as yet, materialised.

Spurs were anxious to see whether or not Carrick is willing to commit his future but fear that he may prefer to leave, and know he is in a strong position to do so. That would be a blow to the head coach, Martin Jol, in particular, as he has shown great faith in the 24-year-old.

If Carrick continues to indicate that he wants to go, and does not want to agree a new contract, then Spurs would be prepared to sell him. Talks with United are expected to take place next week.

Spurs have previously shown interest in Jol's fellow Dutch countryman Van Nistelrooy, who has been told he can leave United if the price is right. If he did move to White Hart Lane it would raise further doubts over the future of Jermain Defoe at the club.

A bad week for Sir Alex Ferguson took a another downturn yesterday when the United managed was told his £10m offer for Carrick had been rejected. "Michael Carrick is a player we are not looking to sell," said the Tottenham statement. Ferguson has been desperately searching for a defensively minded player who could fill the massive vacancy left by Roy Keane's departure last November. Carrick is his target, but if he is to stand any chance of landing the Wallsend-born player he will need to increase his bid to somewhere in the region of £14m - or include Van Nistelrooy in a deal.

Having had his holiday in the South of France rudely interrupted by the furore over Wayne Rooney's return to the England fold, Ferguson faces another week of distracted deliberation. It had earlier been suggested that Jol might make an £8m offer of his own for Van Nistelrooy, after the former PSV Eindhoven striker fell out with Ferguson at the end of the season.