The Independent’s Sam Wallace on the brewing competition for one of Holland’s top scoring threats.

Manchester United will now consider a bid for the Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt (above), a long-term target for Liverpool, to replace his departed countryman Ruud van Nistelrooy after it was confirmed yesterday that they have agreed an eye- watering £18.6m fee for Michael Carrick, who will inherit Roy Keane’s No 16 shirt at Old Trafford.

Kuyt has been tracked by Liverpool all summer after playing a central role in the Netherlands’ World Cup finals campaign, although the Merseyside club have refused to meet a £12m valuation of the player. They may have to revise that opinion after it emerged yesterday that United have made enquiries about Kuyt’s situation, as their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, seeks to strengthen his forward line in the wake of Van Nistelrooy’s departure.

As revealed in The Independent last week, Carrick’s fee was settled in the early hours of Thursday morning at £18m – and Tottenham sought to present the deal in their favour yesterday by revealing that the total could rise to as much as £18.6m. That amount would be payable only if United were to achieve significant success in the Premiership and Champions’ League, but Tottenham can be sure of at least £14m.

There’s no shortage of drama surrounding Ashley Cole making an early exit from Arsenal training yesterday. Even Allan Iverson was disappointed.

Sven Goran Ericksson’s agent, the wonderfully tagged Arthole Still, claims to have “four managers of the highest quality” lined up to succeed David O’Leary at Aston Villa, when and if his client’s takeover bid goes down. “…thus ruling out Mr. Erickson,” quipped the Guardian’s headline writer.