Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker has confirmed that Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier was hellbent on joining Manchester United this summer, only for chairman Daniel Levy to block the move.
Jose Mourinho had pin-pointed Dier, who has been a regular presence in Spurs’ midfield since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in 2014, as his primary midfield option over the summer transfer window. The Englishman was keen on a move, but Spurs, as is always the case, were intractable in negotiations, asking for a minimum asking price of £50m – a figure that United met, only to be told it wasn’t enough. They then offered £60m after it appeared any deal for Nemanja Matic was off but Spurs, having lost Kyle Walker to Manchester City not long before, were in no mood to further strengthen their rivals and outright blocked the move.
The entire fiasco only served to highlight the sentiments expressed towards Levy by Sir Alex Ferguson following the long ordeal of signing Michael Carrick for around £14m back 2006, and it looked as if United had missed out on Dier, Matic, Fabinho and Radja Nainggolan – Mourinho’s top four midfield targets – ahead of the UEFA Super Cup clash. Anderlecht’s Leander Dendoncker was being lined up as an emergency back-up option.
Thankfully, Matic wanted United and wasn’t going to let Antonio Conte’s reluctance stop him. The Serbian signed for £40m last month and has been an indomitable, fluid presence at the base of midfield, emboldening Mourinho’s side at the back whilst also breaking the lines going forward. He offers so much more than the often straightforward thuggish threat of Dier.
But it could have been different. During an Instagram live stream from Dele Alli, shot on the plane before England’s departure to Malta for a World Cup qualifier, Dier calls Walker a “traitor” for joining City, to which Walker quipped back that Dier himself wanted a move to Manchester.
“It was alright when you wanted to go to United,” he said.
The pair then shared an awkward hug, with Alli looking on with a bemused expression, but Walker, channeling none other than Richard Keys, was quick to explain the situation during a press conference later that day.
“It’s just a bit of friendly banter. I think it’s been took a bit too far, me, Del, Harry [Kane], Eric, we’re all very close. I’ve know them for a good six, seven years now. It’s all just a bit of friendly banter I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
“Yeah, it’s just kind of one of them things that you just have a bit of fun about. You know, me and Eric have a good relationship on and off the field.
“We have banter together and I take it, he takes it. That’s just about it, really.”