Tottenham Hotspur last night came up with a novel approach to solve the row over the compensation package for Frank Arnesen they would like to swap their sporting director for two of Chelsea's players, preferably worth £10m.
Chelsea expect to hold face-to-face talks with Spurs in the next 48 hours to agree a deal for taking Arnesen to Stamford Bridge, after discussions yesterday involving the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and the Chelsea director Eugene Tenenbaum, who is Roman Abramovich's right-hand man and made an approach for Arnesen two weeks ago, which was refused.
As Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon flew back to Britain last night to continue talks, the clubs were far apart on their valuation with Spurs insisting they want £10m in damages, while Chelsea are said to be offering £2m.
The likelihood is a figure of about £4m will be agreed, but Spurs threw another element into the equation last night with talk of a "player swap" for Arnesen. They are known admirers of the Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker, valued at £6m, and the striker Carlton Cole, who could be picked up for £4m, and Mateja Kezman, who could be available for the same price.
Spurs are keeping all their options open, which includes the threat of legal action and a complaint to the Premier League over Chelsea's alleged illegal approach for their sporting director, which could spark an inquiry similar to the Ashley Cole tapping-up incident. However, the chances of that happening are receding, although Spurs insist that there is no "time limit" on making a complaint and they will not be pushed into anything.
They are undoubtedly attempting to increase the pressure on Chelsea in the hope of extracting the highest possible payment.
They also want to impose a number of restrictions on Arnesen, who was suspended from his post on Friday after making it clear to Levy that he wanted to join Chelsea to take up the newly created role of head of youth and scouting. Chelsea have offered to increase his salary from £600,000 a year to more than £2m.
The restrictions are likely to include a no-poaching agreement and Arnesen serving "gardening leave" until the start of next season even if, at present, Spurs are also threatening to hold him to the two years of his contract.
If Spurs do enter into negotiations with Chelsea, it will be an act of pragmatism. However, it will cause dismay among many in football, who believe Chelsea need to be punished if they have broken the rules in approaching Arnesen.
It is also clear that neither Chelsea who would risk a points deduction nor Spurs, who would risk the kind of embarrassment suffered by Arsenal over Cole, want an inquiry.
The White Hart Lane club were adamant yesterday that Arnesen's departure would not lead to them abandoning the system put in place by Levy of appointing a sporting director and head coach to work in tandem.
It is believed that the head coach Martin Jol is keen to dilute the role of sporting director, unless the club bring in someone with the same skills and experience as Arnesen.
The Dutchman is believed to think that a "chief scout" could be brought in instead, although Levy has made clear he wants a direct replacement. Finding the right candidate will be extremely difficult.
Jol is said to have reacted with shock to Arnesen's departure as the Dane had, only a few weeks ago, turned down a offer from his former Spanish club Valencia.
There was some good news for Spurs yesterday, with the England goalkeeper Paul Robinson indicating that he intends to sign a new contract.
"I've been in negotiations for a few weeks and we are just about there on a long-term contract that will keep me here for a few years," he said. "It's a commitment that I'm more than happy to do. There's never been any doubt on my part that this is where I want to be."
Robinson also spoke of the loss of Arnesen. "Frank is good at bringing players in and helping to build the squad," he said. "But then it has been Martin Jol who has got us where we are now on the pitch. At football clubs you see individuals come and go but you have to move on. As players we have to get on with our jobs."Reuse content