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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Is Carrick worth 18.6m?
By Simon Austin

Selling your best goalscorer before buying a midfielder who has yet to convince at the highest level does not seem like the best piece of business - especially if you lose 8m as part of the bargain.

But that represents Manchester United's transfer business so far this summer.

CARRICK FACTFILE
Michael Carrick
Born: 28 July 1981
Birthplace: Wallsend, North Shields
Clubs: West Ham, Spurs
England debut: May 2001 v Mexico
Caps: Seven

On Friday they sold Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, the scorer of 150 goals in 219 games, to Real Madrid for 10.3m.

Three days later, Tottenham midfielder Michael Carrick moved to Old Trafford for 18.6m. The 25-year-old has yet to play in the Champions League or cement a place in the England team.

Whatever the merits of selling Van Nistelrooy - who, despite his fantastic goalscoring record, looked a shadow of his former self last season - ex-West Ham assistant manager Frank Lampard Sr thinks the acquisition of Carrick may be a masterstroke.

The duo worked closely together after Carrick signed professional forms at Upton Park in August 1998 at the age of 17.

"It was clear from the first time I saw Michael train that he was a rare talent," Lampard Sr told BBC Sport.

"The main thing that struck me about him was he always looked like he had time on the ball. That might not sound like much, but it's something only a few players have.

"We are yet to see the best of Michael. He's a nice, easy-going lad, and I think he can push himself a bit more than he does.

CARRICK STATS 2005/6
Crosses: 231 in 35 games - 133 more than any other Spurs player
Passes: 1,938 - nearly 600 more than anyone else at Tottenham
Assists: Six - joint top (with Mido)
Goals: Two
"No disrespect to Spurs but he will have to push himself at United because he's stepping up a level and there will be demands on him all the time."

Lampard says his son, Frank, serves as an example of the improvement that Carrick can make.

Eyebrows were raised when Lampard moved from West Ham to Chelsea in 2001 but he has gone on to become one of the finest attacking midfielders in Europe.

"When you're training with world-class players every day, you learn from them and raise your level," said Lampard Sr.

"If you have got the capabilities - which Michael certainly has - then you adapt and lift your level.

"Michael was used mainly as a holding midfielder at Spurs but I expect United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to ask him to show more and become more of an all-round player.

"He might be asked to get forward more and score goals, or become more of a ball winner. Having worked closely with him, I know he's capable of doing that."

Michael's got everything - he's really mobile, with good touch and two good feet

Gary Charles
Former West Ham and England defender

Former England international Gary Charles, who played with Carrick for two seasons at Upton Park, agrees that the 25-year-old has the ability to become the complete midfielder.

"People have criticised him for not influencing games enough but, having trained and played with him, I know what he can do," Charles told BBC Sport.

"He has got everything - he is really mobile, with a good touch and two good feet, and he never gives the ball away."

After a difficult start to his Tottenham career - he was signed on the recommendation of sporting director Frank Arnesen and then left on the sidelines by the then manager Jacques Santini - Carrick has flourished under current Spurs boss Martin Jol.

When Spurs rejected a 10m offer for the midfielder from United in May, Jol explained: "We are building something here and I can't do without him."

Yet, despite a disappointing World Cup in which Carrick started just one match, United have come calling again.

This time the lure of Old Trafford, and probably the financial package on offer, was too good to refuse.

Ferguson will be hoping the player can fulfil the 18.6m fee - and his vast potential.



SEE ALSO
Man Utd agree 18.6m Carrick fee
31 Jul 06 |  Man Utd
Carrick move pleases fans
31 Jul 06 |  Football
Van Nistelrooy seals Madrid move
28 Jul 06 |  Man Utd


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