Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier "could have easily" joined Manchester United this summer but chairman Daniel Levy ensured that such a move never came to fruition, according to former Spurs stalwart Darren Anderton.
Dier was heavily linked with a switch to Old Trafford throughout the early weeks of the current transfer window as Jose Mourinho sought the addition of a new defensive enforcer to utilise the attacking qualities of Paul Pogba. However, the deal never happened with Nemanja Matic eventually reuniting with his former Chelsea boss instead.
United were said to have seen at least one bid for Dier rejected, with Spurs understandably reluctant to strengthen another direct Premier League title rival having already seen right-back Kyle Walker join Manchester City in a £50m ($64.1m) deal.
The 23-year-old was believed to have been keen on a move north in order to re-establish himself in his favoured position having been mostly deployed as a defender by Mauricio Pochettino in 2016-17 following the arrival of Victor Wanyama from Southampton.
The latter deal is one that Anderton believes came as a blow to Dier after a fine campaign as he looks to fill the same role on a long-term basis for England.
"He had a fantastic year before Wanyama came in, so I thought the signing of Wanyama was harsh," he said in an interview with sportingbet.com. "As a player if you have a great year, you should be rewarded for that but Pochettino went out and bought Wanyama, which he probably sees as a bit of a kick in the teeth.
"Dier has got on with it though, which has meant he has been used as more of a utility player, which isn't great for his career. Wanyama was brilliant last year so you can't argue too much with the Pochettino. Dier wants to be a defensive midfielder and after playing so well for England in that position, he won't want to play centre-back, he'll want to be a defensive midfielder."
He added: "Eric could have quite easily gone to Manchester United this year, but Levy made sure that didn't happen, but he'll want to play. He won't kick up a fuss, but if he can go and be a regular in another team you couldn't blame him for leaving - no matter how much he loves the club".
Bayern Munich were also mentioned in connection with a surprise £50m swoop for the versatile Dier before the 31 August transfer deadline, although Tottenham appear to have little appetite for further outgoings as they hunt at least two more new signings following the respective additions of Ajax defender Davinson Sanchez and Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
The Sporting Lisbon academy graduate has started both of Spurs' opening top-flight matches in 2017-18, featuring alongside Mousa Dembele in a midfield two during a routine 2-0 victory over 1-man Newcastle United before lining up with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen on the right-hand side of a back three for a dramatic 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea at Wembley.