MANCHESTER UNITED will struggle to sign any Tottenham Hotspur players this summer because Spurs chairman Daniel Levy knows how to hold a grudge.
There has been bad blood between the two clubs for over a decade now, but it was was exacerbated by United’s pursuit of Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
The Tottenham chairman is understood to have told club staff that he will never do business with United again, after a series of boardroom-level clashes between the two clubs.
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United are reportedly interested in bringing both Eric Dier and Danny Rose to Old Trafford.
But chances of that seem sparse if Ed Woodward plans to land either player, after over a decade of squabbling that has centred around three players.
In 2006, United signed Michael Carrick from Tottenham for £18.6million.
But there were suspicions at White Hart Lane that the pursuit of the midfielder had taken place mostly during the World Cup in Germany, with several United players in Sven Goran Eriksson’s squad, although this is unproven.
Then Spurs manager Martin Jol said at the time: “This is a move that Michael wants to make.
“We have given him every reason to stay but he has asked to be allowed to leave.”
Two years later, United were desperate to sign Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov – and this is where relations between the two clubs took a nosedive.
In 2008, newly-minted Manchester City agreed a £30m fee to sign Berbatov, but Sir Alex Ferguson intercepted him at Manchester Airport and took him to Carrington.
Berbatov signed for the then European champions for £30.75m on transfer deadline day and Frazier Campbell went to White Hart Lane on a season-long loan.
Tottenham had a year’s worth of evidence to submit to the Premier League after they accused United of tapping up Berbatov, but following the completion of the deal they decided not to submit.
They had agreed a transfer fee with City until the last minute, as United agreed personal terms with Berbatov before submitting their bid and completing their paperwork.
That heady day, City completed a transfer for Brazilian ace Robinho, sparking the start of the Sheikh Mansour era at the Etihad, leading to their Premier League title win in 2012.
Then in 2013 came the strange story of Ezekiel ‘Zeki’ Fryers, a player who, now 24, has only made a handful of appearances in the Premier League.
Fryers left United in 2012 when his contract expired, but as the Old Trafford club were due compensation for training him as an apprentice, the two clubs could not agree a fee over the £6m asking price.
Instead Fryers went to Standard Liege for a season, before signing for Spurs for £3m just 12 months later.
Ferguson said at the time: “I’m disappointed in Tottenham. I think it’s a blatant manipulation of the situation.
“I think the league should look into it and I think they should stop his registration until they examine it.”
Tottenham claimed their innocence, but previous bad blood appeared to have spilled over into the latest wrangle.
A Spurs spokesman said: “His representatives made contact with clubs in England.
“This afforded us a second opportunity to sign the player as per Fifa’s solidarity contribution mechanism.
“Manchester United will receive five per cent of the transfer fee we have paid.”
Now, there is no doubt United are keen on the likes of Dier and Rose, just as they were eager to stick their hat in the ring for Gareth Bale when he moved to Real Madrid in 2013.
But they were never given a chance with Bale, especially with Levy playing hardball with Madrid in the first place over extracting a then world record £85m from Los Blancos.
Maybe if United want to re-build bridges with Tottenham, they will need to sell a couple of top players to their rivals.
Until that happens, Woodward will find it very hard to tease the likes of Dier and Rose out of Levy’s club.