TOTTENHAM could turn to £15m Spain striker Alvaro Negredo after manager Andre Villas-Boas conceded defeat in the club’s long-running pursuit of Brazilian Leandro Damiao.
Spurs have been tracking 23-year-old Damiao for more than two years and hoped to finally clinch his signing this month, but Villas-Boas admitted yesterday that his arrival was “extremely unlikely”.
That has forced them to consider alternatives, and reports in Spain last night placed Tottenham among the frontrunners to sign Sevilla’s Negredo, who has scored six in 12 games for Spain.
In a twist, they may face competition from north London rivals Arsenal for the 27-year-old, while Chelsea, Newcastle and Italian champions Juventus are also said to admire the centre-forward.
Tottenham’s need is perhaps the most urgent, with Emmanuel Adebayor’s departure for the Africa Cup of Nations leaving Jermain Defoe as their sole striker potentially until mid-February.
But Villas-Boas insists that, despite wanting to prise £20m-rated Damiao from Internacional, the club will not be forced into the market by Adebayor’s U-turn over representing Togo in South Africa.
“Leandro is a player that we have always appreciated at this club. It is extremely unlikely that he will play for Tottenham,” said the Portuguese, whose side face Queen’s Park Rangers tomorrow.
“I don’t think Adebayor’s decision will affect our transfer policy. We’ve been pretty happy with the options we have available.
“We understand that we can put ourselves in a difficult position if one of our strikers gets injured, but we have been in this situation before when Ade was injured, and we managed to go through it.”
Villas-Boas added that he would consider deploying midfielder Clint Dempsey as a striker – a position he has occupied previously at Fulham.
Powerful Damiao has scored 76 in 131 for the Porto Alegre club and two in 14 for the senior Brazil team, but his transfer is complicated by third parties owning a stake in any deal.
Negredo spent two years failing to break into the Real Madrid team before shining at Almeria between 2007 and 2009, earning him a permanent £12m switch to Sevilla, who are now facing financial difficulties.
He has continued to impress, scoring 11 in 18 this season and 65 in 156 in total at the Andalucian outfit, earning him international recognition and a place in the Spain squad that won Euro 2012.