Spurs braced for a £7m United offer for Carrick

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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur are steeling themselves for a bid from Manchester United for the England midfielder Michael Carrick after the Old Trafford club made an initial enquiry about the player's availability this week. A fee in the region of £7m should be enough to secure a transfer and already Tottenham are on the lookout for a replacement for him.

Sir Alex Ferguson's interest in Carrick is long-standing and he toyed with the idea of a bid for the player, 25 next month, in the January transfer window but decided to wait until the summer to make his move. Carrick has two years remaining on his contract and this summer would expect a new deal that would stretch Tottenham's pay structure to breaking point.

Carrick and his agent, David Giess, have been told that talks will be opened with Tottenham after the World Cup finals, although a salary of £50,000 a week upwards would not be sanctioned by White Hart Lane. Instead they are prepared to let him go for more than twice the £2.75m they paid West Ham for him in August 2004.

Carrick is finally showing that his talent belongs on the international stage. He made a stuttering start against Belarus in Reading last month but impressed when he came on for 20 minutes against Jamaica.

The Tottenham coach, Martin Jol, is a fan of Carrick, although he has long felt the player's progress this season could take him out of the hands of Spurs. There are many at the club who say it is time to give Tom Huddlestone, the 20-year-old who was signed from Derby County last year, chance in midfield.

With Edgar Davids likely to leave this summer, and Carrick possibly on his way too, the way should open up for Huddlestone. Spurs will also look to the highly regarded Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora, 25, who plays for St-Etienne and has been considered by, among others, United.

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

In the mean time, United will not give up their interest in the Lyon midfielder Mahamadou Diarra despite a price of around £14m, which they consider too high. There remains the distinct prospect that they will buy both Carrick and Diarra to revitalise the centre of their midfield.

Jol has promised further new signings as Spurs unveiled the capture of the France Under-18 defender Dorian Dervitte from Lille. The move will be completed at the start of next month and Dervitte will join the club's development squad at the start of the season.

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