PSV Eindhoven announced last night that their technical director, Frank Arnesen, would be leaving the club to take up a similar post at Tottenham Hotspur.
According to the Dutch club, Arnesen has signed a three-year deal and will take charge of the club's transfer policy, scouting and the club's youth system. David Pleat currently holds that job at White Hart Lane and the appointment of the Dane would probably spell the end of the acting manager's link with the north London club. Pleat has run the first team since Glenn Hoddle was dismissed late last year.
The likelihood is that Spurs will offer him a reduced post on the staff, but Pleat, who has twice before filled in as caretaker manager following the exits of Christian Gross and George Graham, seems more likely to walk away from the club.
If so his parting gifts to Spurs and their new management team would be the striker Jermain Defoe, the midfielder Michael Brown and the goalkeeper Paul Robinson, all signed by him for a total of only about £9m.
Arnesen told the PSV website: "I am very glad that I will be working at a traditional club in England where I will continue my work as a technical director. Tottenham are a club with a lot of history and play in perhaps the best competition in the world."
Arnesen has been at PSV for 19 years, three of them as a player before he was appointed as assistant to Sir Bobby Robson in 1988. His new appointment sheds little light on who the new Spurs manager will be. Carlos Queiroz has emerged as a new front-runner with his job at Real Madrid under threat after four defeats in a row. Queiroz might also return to Old Trafford where he assisted the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, last season.
Another potential candidate who has been linked with the Spurs job during the past year is Ottmar Hitzfeld, who is expected to leave the manager's job at Bayern Munich at the end of the week. Arnesen speaks Spanish and he is also a friend of Hitzfeld.
However, Arnesen's appointment opens up other possibilities that have yet to be considered widely. He is a close friend of Feyenoord's coach, Bert van Marwijk, who is leaving the Rotterdam club after four years in charge. He has a strong reputation and took the club to Uefa Cup success in 2002. His assistant, who is also leaving the club, is John Metgod, who played for Tottenham in the late 1980s under Pleat.
Another of Arnesen's close acquaintances is Martin Jol, who played for West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City in the 1980s and has impressed as a coach at RKC Waalwijk in the Dutch League.
One of the first coaches linked to the Spurs job, Giovanni Trapattoni, may still make himself available once he has finished his his role with Italy at the Euro 2004 finals. Talks with Trapattoni, 65, have already stalled and he revealed in an interview with the London Evening Standard yesterday that his wife Paola's reluctance to move from Milan was a big factor. However, he still refers to the Spurs job as a "great prospect".
He is a close friend of Claudio Ranieri, who looks set to leave Chelsea when they settle on a replacement - probably Porto's Jose Mourinho, once his Portuguese club have played the European Cup final against Monaco on 26 May. There has been speculation that Ranieri, who steered Chelsea to second place in the Premiership - their highest position since winning the title in 1955 - will work with a new regime at Tottenham.
Trapattoni, whose English is about as good as Ranieri's, was quoted yesterday as saying that if his wife had agreed they would "probably" have been Tottenham-bound already, "but I am still very enthusiastic about the job".
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