Tottenham last night stepped up their war on Manchester United and Liverpool for ‘tapping up’ Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, but already look to have earmarked Samuel Eto’o and Andrei Arshavin as replacements.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been angered by what he sees as deliberate attempts to unsettle the strike duo, and yesterday handed the Premier League a dossier of evidence amassed over 12 months on United’s pursuit of Berbatov.
Together with a complaint against Liverpool’s interest in £20m-rated Keane, Levy has sent out a message that his stars are not for sale. But both players are said to favour a move and still look likely to leave, while Spurs appear to be moving behind the scenes to replace the pair.
Eto’o, the former African Footballer of the Year, says Spurs are rivalling Chelsea and Inter Milan to sign him. The Cameroon international, 27, would be the most eye-catching capture, but has expressed scepticism about joining a club he derided as “mid-table”, and looks more likely to move to Italy.
Arshavin, the star of Euro 2008, would also be a coup, and his club Zenit St Petersburg confirmed yesterday that they had rejected a bid from the north London outfit.
“This English club is really interested in acquiring Andrei but £21.5 million is too high a price for them,” said Zenit sporting director Konstantin Sarsaniya. “Tottenham are ready to pay in the region of £15.9 million for Arshavin.”
Much is likely to depend on how determined Spurs are to keep Berbatov and Keane, now that their futures have become the subject of a bitter row.
Levy accused United manager Sir Alex Ferguson of “sheer arrogance” after the Scot was quoted as saying he was confident of signing Berbatov.
But Ferguson hit back at Levy at the weekend, denying the remarks had come from him and saying the episode would prove “very embarrassing for Spurs”.