In his book, Ferguson said,
You can’t discuss both sides of the issue with Daniel. It’s about him, and Tottenham, nothing more, which is no bad thing from his club’s perspective.
It was in the days of Sir Alan Sugar that Manchester United first raided Tottenham to take Teddy Sheringham to Old Trafford. The first time during the Levy era when United showed interest in a Spurs player was in Martin Jol’s developing team which just failed to make the Champions League in 2005-06. Michael Carrick who was a major influence in that team became a target for United as Ferguson looked to replace Roy Keane.
Spurs rejected an early offer from United but in a World Cup year, Carrick returned from England duty clearly intent on leaving White Hart Lane. Levy did not give in easily though and negotiated a transfer fee reported to be £14m rising to £18.6m.
In the summer of 2008, United returned to Spurs with their sights set on the Bulgarian striker, Dimitar Berbatov. Ferguson had made it clear that he wanted Berbatov and Spurs issued a complaint to the Premier League over United’s actions. Negotiations dragged on through the summer towards the end of August in what Ferguson described as “a scrap”. Unsettled by the interest from United Berbatov refused to play for Spurs and on a dramatic final day, the deal was eventually completed for a fee of £30.75m.
In both instances Levy’s tough negotiations had forced United to pay a premium price to sign players that Spurs didn’t want to sell but were unsettled and wanted to leave the club. The sale of Berbatov is thought to have further hardened Levy’s view on transfers. He became even more determined that he would no longer sell to Premier League rivals which would have a detrimental effect on Spurs’ position in the league. In 2011 he blocked Chelsea’s attempts to sign Luka Modric and this summer refused to accept an offer from United for Gareth Bale. The United bid is reported to have been even higher than the offer accepted from Real Madrid who were forced into making a world record bid for the Spurs player. The Daily Express reported that Russia manager Fabio Capello has claimed that Manchester United offered Spurs £100m to sign Bale before he joined Real Madrid.
Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged that Daniel Levy’s actions were always about getting the best possible deal for Tottenham – something the Real Madrid president discovered to his cost this summer.