Steve Bruce asked Dele Alli to drop down a division and join Aston Villa after the midfielder inspired Tottenham to a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup third round.
But Bruce joked Villa would struggle to pay the “£80million” Alli might now cost after his recent series of scintillating displays for Spurs.
The 20-year-old came off the bench after an hour at White Hart Lane and it was his dummy that led to Ben Davies heading home the opener before Son Heung-min added a second.
“I asked Dele Alli if he would come and play for us,” a smiling Bruce said after the match.
“He said ‘someday Steve I’d love to’ but I think £80million might be too much for us.
“He certainly changed it for them. He has that quality that really top players have. I wished he had sat on his arse, we might have been better off.”