The Spurs manager shared his frustration with Manchester United’s interest in Eric Dier last season.
One of the main names bandied about during United’s summer spending was that of Tottenham defensive midfielder-cum-centre back Eric Dier. Speculation ramped up in July of this year when it appeared that Chelsea would not relinquish Nemanja Matic.
The 23-year-old was said to be exasperated at being moved out of his preferred central midfield position with the proliferation of Victor Wanyama.
His boss, Mauricio Pochettino has admitted as much in a new book by Guillem Balague entitled Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs. An extract from the book, via The Daily Mail, reveals per the Argentinian himself that United had ‘unsettled’ the player with their interest.
“After we signed [Victor] Wanyama [in summer, 2016], Eric, who now sees himself as a midfielder, felt that we had treated him badly because Wanyama’s arrival would halt his development,” Pochettino revealed.
“His performances have started to suffer this season. We’ve spoken a lot recently but I’ve felt he hasn’t been telling me everything. I once again tried to understand why he couldn’t shake off the shackles and I offered to help him. Nothing. Then I found out that United have made an approach and the player is being destabilised. His people have been putting pressure on him, although United are not promising anything.”
Pochettino then recalled a conversation between Dier and United manager Jose Mourinho following a game between the two teams last year.
“Mourinho and I had finished our interviews at Old Trafford [in December 2016] and the players were doing their warm-down on the pitch. When Jose was done with the press, he stood by the entrance to the tunnel and regarded the returning players.
He greeted Moussa Sissoko and hugged Dier. They passed by me en route to the dressing rooms, laughing, speaking in Portuguese. Maybe it is a common Mourinho tactic, but he put Eric in a compromising position. You cannot do that after a defeat.
‘Are you friends with Mourinho?’ I asked him. ‘No, but I’ve known him a long time, from my time in Portugal… one of his godsons coached me. He always says hello.'”
He sat the player down the following Monday to address his future, and got Dier to admit that the situation could have been handled better.
“He told me about United’s interest since last summer  and I explained the situation to him clearly.
‘Look, you aren’t leaving because you signed a five-year deal with us in August. You’re among the highest-paid players at Tottenham at the age of 22. You’re important to us and you could become the best centre back in the Premier League.’
Ever since that conversation, Eric admits that he could have waited for Mourinho to be out of sight before heading to the dressing room.”
Of course, Dier remains a Spurs player following Manchester United’s eventual signing of Matic.