By Greg Stobart
Tottenham will make an official bid worth around £15 million (€18m) for Leandro Damiao in an attempt to add quality to their strikeforce as they push for a place in the Champions League next season.
Spurs have chased Damiao for two years but feel this transfer window could be the best time to finally land their man from Brazilian club Internacional, with the Londoners’ need for further forward options highlighted by Emmanuel Adebayor’s u-turn in deciding to play for Togo in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Damiao and Porto playmaker Joao Moutinho are the two major targets in the remainder of the January window for Spurs, who have already this month reached a pre-contract agreement to sign Lewis Holtby in June and bought youngster Zeki Fryers from Standard Liege.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is a keen admirer of Damiao, who the club first tried to sign in January 2011, and Internacional are believed to finally be ready to sell the 23-year-old with the Brazilian championship now out of season.
Damiao, who has 14 caps for Brazil, caught the eye as he finished top scorer in the 2012 Olympic Games with six goals, and is also attracting interest from Inter Milan having been the subject of several bids from Spurs over the last two years.
The deal to sign Damiao is particularly complicated due to third party investors and Internacional’s changing stance with regards to their star man, despite the ‘partnership agreement’ struck between the Brazilian club and Tottenham when Sandro moved to north London in 2010.
Asked last week about the prospect of Damiao moving to Tottenham or another big European club in January, the player’s agent Vinicius Prates said: “While Leandro Damiao stays at Internacional, Tottenham will always be interested.
“Andre Villas-Boas has liked him since he was Chelsea’s manager.”
The Portuguese coach has also publicly revealed his admiration for Damiao, a tall and powerful striker who likes to play on the last man and has superb eye for goal in the penalty area.
The move for Damiao is unrelated to Adebayor’s apparent change of heart in coming out of retirement to play in the African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The Togolese striker has twice quite the national team but has now decided to play in the tournament, with the decision still to be officially confirmed before the deadline on Wednesday.
In any case, Spurs feel they need a striker to add to Jermain Defoe and Adebayor, who has scored just two Premier League goals this term.
The Togolese striker is understood to have a difficult relationship with Villas-Boas, having held two sets of crisis talks about his role in the team with his coach earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, Spurs are not interested in joining the race for highly rated Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who is a target for Manchester United and Arsenal.
Zaha has been heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park but the Championship club are deterring bidders by demanding £15m (€18m) for the teenager.