Eric Dier is open to the prospect of a move to Manchester United and the club are pushing hard to make it happen despite the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy, having categorically ruled it out.
Ed Woodward, the United executive vice-chairman, spoke with Levy at the start of the close season and registered their interest in Dier, who sees himself as a defensive midfielder although he played in Tottenham's defence for most of last season.
It is understood Woodward, who will also step up United's efforts to sign Inter's Ivan Perisic this week, made a bid for the England player – on the instructions of José Mourinho – but Levy rejected it. Furthermore, Levy made it plain he was not interested in selling Dier and United ought to take this as his final word on the matter.
United have refused to do so, particularly after their efforts to look elsewhere for the defensive midfielder Mourinho has demanded encountered problems.
They thought they were close to a deal for Nemanja Matic but their hijacking of Chelsea's move for Romelu Lukaku has soured relations between the clubs and made the Matic transfer difficult to complete. Lukaku joined United from Everton on Monday for a fee that could rise to €100 million.
Dier, who admitted in 2010 while at Sporting Lisbon that it would be difficult to turn down United if the chance came to join the club he supported as a boy, has been Mourinho’s No1 midfield target this summer and Levy may face a dilemma when United’s offer is broken down.
They are considering making a second offer of €55 million for the 23-year-old and would more than double his €78,000 weekly wage, taking it way beyond Levy’s €112,000 ceiling.
If Levy were to block Dier’s transfer, what would he do about his salary? It would be impossible to come close to matching United’s offer without breaking Spurs’ wage structure and Levy will not do this for fear of encouraging other players to ask for large rises.
Dier, who is under contract until 2021, was displaced as Tottenham's first-choice defensive midfielder by Victor Wanyama, who was signed from Southampton in June last year. Dier played mostly in central defence as part of a back four or back three but wants to secure one position – defensive midfield. He knows Mourinho would play him in his favoured role.
Tottenham are prepared to sell one player from their first-choice XI – Kyle Walker, the right-back who is a target for Manchester City. But negotiations have become protracted as Levy believes he is in a powerful position, which is always bad news for the potential buyer.
Levy wants at least €55 million and feels it is fair in terms of the market. The 27-year-old was the best right-back in the Premier League last season according to the Professional Footballers' Association, who named him in their team of the year.
Mauricio Pochettino could replace Walker, who has four years to run on his contract, with Kieran Trippier and the Spurs manager could use the fee from the sale to strengthen his squad. Pochettino would be less willing to cash in on Dier.
United, meanwhile, will try and sign Ivan Perisic before Internazionale fly to China for their pre-season tour, with the Italian club valuing the forward at around €55 million.
It is understood United price the Croat at closer to €45m and so any eventual fee may be in the region of €50m. Luciano Spalletti, the Inter coach, wants him to stay but Perisic is intent on the move to Old Trafford and so the pair are due to meet to discuss his future.
Mourinho is keen to bolster his forward line with the 28-year-old who largely operates in wide positions as he remains doubtful about the quality of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard. Last season the Portuguese complained on several occasions at their lack of cutting edge.
Perisic can also play in a central attacking berth and as Wayne Rooney has left for Everton the Croat would provide an option in this area too.
Inter, who signed Fiorentina's Borja Valero yesterday, are due to leave for China on July 18th. Mourinho wants to try and seal the deal for Perisic before then.
Perisic linked up with Inter for their pre-season camp at Riscone di Brunico but if the transfer can be completed Mourinho may ask the player to fly to the United States to join United's tour.
Everton remain determined to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson and will not be discouraged by Swansea City placing a €55 million price tag on the midfielder’s head. Swansea’s valuation exceeds what Everton hope to pay for a player who was directly involved in 22 Premier League goals last season, but there is no let up in their pursuit and also a desire to get a transfer agreed as soon as possible.
Leicester City have also showed interest in signing Sigurdsson this summer and already had an offer rejected by Swansea, although it is understood that there is no prospect of the 27-year-old moving to the King Power Stadium.
Everton, in that sense, are the player’s only realistic suitors as Ronald Koeman’s ambitious summer spending continues to gather pace in a bid to secure Champions League qualification next season.
It now remains to be seen whether Swansea will soften their stance at all during what is seen as a critical 48 hours, with Sigurdsson due to fly to the United States on Thursday morning with Paul Clement and the rest of the squad for their pre-season tour. Swansea have said that Sigurdsson will be on the plane, and it will be interesting to see whether that turns out to be the case.
The Welsh club have adopted a bullish approach over Sigurdsson’s future amid mounting speculation over the last six weeks or so. The Icelander has three years remaining on the contract that he signed last summer, making him the best-paid player at the club, and Swansea are under no financial pressure to sell their most influential individual all of which strengthens their arm when it comes to any negotiations over the asking price.
Everton, however, are not going to be deterred even if they believe €55 million is excessive. They signed Ashley Williams, the Swansea captain, last summer and are hell-bent on bringing Sigurdsson to Goodison Park as well.
That prospect will be the all more appealing to Sigurdsson on the back of a summer when Everton have spent close to €110 millionm, signing Wayne Rooney, Michael Keane, Sandro Ramirez, Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Henry Onyekuru and Nathangelo Markelo.
Clement, the Swansea head coach, has refused to concede defeat but admitted there is “clearly some very strong interest” in Sigurdsson. “Gylfi has been an excellent player here. He has three years on his contract and if any business is going to be done, it will be done on the terms we want,” Clement said.
“The club recognised his contribution by giving him an extended contract last season. He was happy to stay on here. At the moment he is a Swansea player and we have to carry on looking at it that way.”
Dani Alves has agreed a deal to join Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal, news that will dismay Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola. The Catalan had made the Brazilian full-back his main target for the right-back position and had secured an agreement in principle with the 34-year-old.
PSG, however, were able to convince the former Barcelona full-back to go back on his promise to City and join the Ligue 1 side. PSG are believed to have offered significantly more money than City and Alves is set to be unveiled at a press conference in Paris today. Guardian Service