United close in on Carrick but Spurs hold out for £13m

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The Independent Football

It has been an eventful week for Carrick, 24, with the doubts over Steven Gerrard meaning that he has had to prepare himself for the possibility of being thrust into the England team today as well as contemplating the prospect of being Roy Keane's replacement. The midfielder has been kept up to date with the transfer saga in London and could change teams during the tournament.

Carrick will be allowed to leave Tottenham with some reluctance, they hoped to keep their best player this season, but with two years left on his contract, Carrick was in a strong position. Having refused the best offer that the club could make him, it became clear at White Hart Lane that they would have to cash in on the player.

Ferguson was close to moving for Carrick in December and yesterday The Independent revealed that Tottenham were at last ready to sell him for the right price having identified Didier Zokora of St Etienne as a replacement. Although Carrick signed a four-year deal in August 2004, his rise in status meant that he was due an improvement in his wages in the summer.

Tottenham have strong links with St Etienne through sporting director Damien Comolli which should allow them to move to the front of the queue of the suitors approaching the Ivory Coast international. They are likely to secure an agreement from United that they will not approach Zokora. United could yet move for the Lyons midfielder Mahamadou Diarra although not at the quoted price of around £14m.

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