The Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy, yesterday left Manchester United and Chelsea in no doubt that he will not entertain bids for Spurs' star striker Dimitar Berbatov when he said that his club would not listen to offers for any "key players" during the January transfer window.
Levy took the unusual step of making a public announcement in an attempt to end speculation over Berbatov's future after the club's manager, Juande Ramos, had seemed to accept on Saturday that the Bulgarian may be sold in the coming month.
The striker did nothing but boost his already considerable value when he scored four times in Spurs' 6-4 win over Reading on Saturday, but the issue over whether he might be leaving was only muddied when Ramos said afterwards that he could give "no assurances" on the issue.
"I can't do that for Berbatov or anybody else," Ramos said of his 10.9m striker, who has persistently been linked with a move to United and has attracted interest from across Europe. "In football anything can happen. We want Berbatov to stay and our intention is that and we think he will. But to give assurances... I don't do that, neither for [Paul] Robinson, [Robbie] Keane or any other footballer. Football is an open market in January when any player has a chance of changing teams if there is an offer."
Ramos was also asked whether Tottenham should not be stating emphatically that the player was not for sale. "That is the contractual situation of Berbatov," he said. "Berbatov is with us and we want him to stay and there is no offer on the table for him to leave."
Perhaps swayed by a need for clarification, Levy issued a statement yesterday saying that he had reviewed the squad with Ramos and Damien Comolli, the club's sporting director. "Juande feels that we are not looking at any major changes," he added. "We are all clear that January is the worst time to buy quality players so we shall not be doing any business that is not essential. Once again for the record, we are not a selling club, rather we are building for the future. When we have players on long contracts we have no need to entertain offers."
Wayne Routledge and Hossam Ghaly are expected to leave Spurs if there is interest from clubs, but Ramos hopes to keep Berbatov and Jermain Defoe, while Darren Bent was linked with a move to West Ham last week but Levy's statement suggests that the 16.5m striker is also going nowhere.Reuse content