AS Roma director of football Walter Sabatini has revealed the reason behind Erik Lamela's transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, saying that interest from a rival Serie 'A' club forced them to sell, reports the Daily Express.
The 21-year-old winger arrived in north London in a club-record £30million deal, brought in as a replacement for Gareth Bale, who joined Real Madrid for a world-record fee.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was delighted to welcome the Argentina international to White Hart Lane, but the move might never have transpired, had the unnamed Italian outfit had an offer accepted by Roma.
"What were the factors that led to us selling Erik? We wanted to give him a pay rise but then another Italian club pounced on him," explained Sabatini.
"Erik had a massive deal on the table and that's when we lost him, he became unsettled here. That's why we sold him."
Keen not to strengthen a domestic rival, Roma accepted the only offer they had from a foreign suitor, but only allowed Lamela to leave Stadio Olimpico once they had sounded out a viable replacement.
"We'd never considered selling Lamela before but a number of new factors came into play and altered the scenario," continued the Roma chief.
"A club made a big offer, making it difficult to renegotiate his contract, and at that point we decided to sell.
"Lamela was sold once we realized we could sign a player of similar quality, [Adem] Ljajic, at a very good price."
The arrival of former Roma director Franco Baldini at Tottenham meant the Premier League club were well placed to negotiate a move for Lamela.