CHELSEA sensationally attempted to hijack Tottenham’s £30m move for Anzhi Makhachkala forward Willian last night, while Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas obliviously watched his team secure a 5-0 victory over Georgian outfit Dinamo Tbilisi in the Europa League play-off first leg.
The 25-year-old Brazilian underwent a medical with Spurs on Wednesday ahead of his club record move, however, Chelsea are believed to have gazumped the north Londoners’ offer at the 11th hour.
The lure of Champions League football could well convince Willian to favour a move to Jose Mourinho’s Blues. And Villas-Boas was forced to admit he was in the dark over the latest developments.
“Everything is possible, but I’m not aware of the circumstances because of our involvement in the game,” he said.
“I confirmed our interest in the player. We were just involved in a game, so unfortunately I can’t give you further information.”
Big-spending Spurs do appear to be closing in on a deal for Roma’s £30m-rated Argentina winger Erik Lamela, however.
The player’s brother, Brian, wrote on Twitter: “Erik is more than likely to go to England.”
The big financial outlay at White Hart Lane is set to be balanced by the world record £94m transfer of forward Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, which could be finalised today.
Real prematurely listed replica shirts with Bale’s name printed on the back on their official website yesterday, though swiftly removed the product from their online store.
However the deal, which has been the subject of a summer-long saga, appears to be imminent after Tottenham technical director Franco Baldini returned to London from Madrid yesterday with talks seemingly now complete.
And Real hope they can also add unsettled Liverpool striker Luis Suarez to their squad before the 2 September deadline to buy.
However, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is adamant his club will not sell their prize asset, also a target of Premier League rivals Arsenal.
“If we lose Luis at this stage it would be difficult to replace him,” said the Reds boss.
“There might have been a point a few months ago where there was time to do it but with 11 days to go it would be difficult to replace him.”
REAL SPLASH OUT – WHAT ABOUT FFP?
AT A time when European football clubs are supposed to be under intense pressure to balance the books, Real Madrid appear to be throwing caution to the wind by smashing their own world transfer record.
Gareth Bale’s widely anticipated arrival from Tottenham is likely to take their spending this summer to around £160m, following a raft of other arrivals including new coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Real lavished more than £50m in total on two of Spain’s most promising talents, Asier Illarramendi and Isco, and, even accounting for the £32m sale of Gonzalo Higuain and a few fringe players, will have spent more than £100m net once Bale signs.
The Spanish outfit may be the world’s top earning club in any sport, but such an outlay still raises doubts about their ability to meet European so-called financial fair play (FFP) rules, which limit losses.
In order to avoid becoming a high-profile test case for the enforceability of FFP, Real may be forced to offset the cost of Bale by putting further big-name players up for sale before the transfer window closes in little more than a week.