x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

United prioritise Modric, Tottenham close in on Park

So impressed was Ferguson with Modric's performances that he declared him as his personal choice for player of the year as Spurs look for inexpensive targets as well.

Sir Alex Ferguson has prioritised the signing of Luka Modric as he seeks to restructure Manchester United's midfield around the Tottenham Hotspur and Croatia playmaker.

Modric, in turn, has opened the door to leaving the club he joined for a club record £16.5million (Dh99.5m) three years ago by stating his desire to play Champions League next season.

Though Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will insist on a high transfer fee for a player he signed to a six-year contract extension at the end of the 2009-10 season, Ferguson has noted the London club's intention to rationalise an oversized squad and believes a deal can be struck.

In salary terms, Modric represents a lower-cost target than Wesley Sneijder, the Netherlands international who United sounded out about a move earlier this year. Sneijder's wages at Internazionale equate to £155,000 a week - a sum that would place him on a par with Wayne Rooney's Old Trafford remuneration.

Modric is paid less than half that amount by Tottenham and also comes with no question marks over his ability to adapt to Premier League football. So impressed was Ferguson with the 25-year-old's performances this season that he declared Modric his personal choice as player of the year.

Sneijder, meanwhile, remains hopeful of receiving a concrete offer from United but has told friends that they are not his only potential route out of Inter.

"Everybody wants to know what will happen with me and I'm trying to stay calm," Modric said last week. "So I will tell you the same as always - my club status is the same as it was before. But if there will be an offer which will be good for Tottenham and for me, also, then a transfer is of course possible.

"That doesn't mean that I'm bothered with leaving Tottenham. I'm not thinking about that every hour and every minute. I'm happy at White Hart Lane - my status is great, the fans like me and I do have everything I need. But then again when you experience playing in the Champions League, you want to keep playing in this tournament."

Midfield was an area of relative weakness as United reclaimed the Premier League title with the lowest points total for a decade. Paul Scholes' decision to retire from playing following last weekend's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona further reduced Ferguson's options, while Owen Hargreaves was released after managing just four League appearances in three seasons.

Levy has publicly stated his aim to reduce Tottenham's squad to more manageable dimensions following their failure to retain a Champions League place. While Harry Redknapp has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the sale of either Modric or Gareth Bale, there are fears that the chairman will cash in on one of Tottenham's two premier assets during the current transfer window.

Tottenham have been concentrating their own recruitment efforts on relatively inexpensive targets. A deal has been put in place to sign South Korea forward Park Chu-young from AS Monaco for around £5.3m. The captain of his national team and a scorer at the last World Cup, the 6ft tall Park can operated as a central striker or on the right hand side of the attack.

The 25-year-old is looking for wages of around £60,000 a week, but brings with him significant commercial income due to his popularity in Asia. Tottenham are also attempting to negotiate the transfer of Brazil international Leandro Damiao. Internacional have rejected an offer worth an initial £11m for the 21-year-old centre forward, who they value closer to £18m.

Damiao is understood to be prepared to accept wages of £34,000.