Redknapp starts playing 'fantasy football with roubles' by signing £7m Spurs trio

Portsmouth's manager promised fireworks in the transfer window and he has been as good as his word, says Jason Burt
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The Independent Online

Portsmouth were last night completing the signings of Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes and Noe Pamarot from Tottenham Hotspur for a combined fee of around £7m. All three spent yesterday discussing personal terms and are due to make their debuts, subject to agreement, in Saturday's vital relegation battle against Everton.

Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, also hopes to secure a new goalkeeper in time for the home fixture although bids for either Norwich City's Robert Green or Middlesbrough's Mark Schwarzer may take longer to complete.

The signing of either goalkeeper, who would cost around £2.5m, would take Portsmouth's spending in the January transfer window to almost £14m. That's more than any other club so far with Redknapp also planning to sign a striker, a right-sided midfielder and possibly another defender.

Three players have already left the south-coast club with any from at least another eight squad members also deemed surplus to requirements. Significantly none are players signed by Redknapp during his first, whirlwind, spell in charge. "There are some more lads here who are just not what I want and who were brought in by somebody else," Redknapp said. "They haven't made successes of their time in this league as the table shows so I need to shift them out and bring players in who can take the club forward."

The manager has taken the bewildering level of transfer activity in his stride. Indeed, even prior to the cash injection promised by new co-owner Alexandre Gaydamak, Redknapp had said there would be "fireworks". Following last weekend's FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth, Ipswich Town's manager Joe Royle said Redknapp was about to indulge in "fantasy football with roubles". Knowingly, Royle added: "If they want someone to spend money, then I'm sure Harry can help them."

It's not for nothing that Redknapp is known as a wheeler-dealer. It's a well-earned reputation. At West Ham he was involved in 134 transfers in seven years as manager. That amounted to trading an entire team every season and eventually wore down the patience of the chairman Terry Brown even though Redknapp argued he developed a number of players and brought the club league stability.

Things did not change at Portsmouth. Indeed, the chairman Milan Mandaric claimed that during two and a half years, 44 players were brought in by Redknapp, including 16 free transfers, using 31 different agents. Redknapp can certainly, however, point to the undoubted success he also achieved, taking the club into the Premiership. Even though he is back at Portsmouth now, it is undeniable that Redknapp's transfer activities were previously a source of tension.

However, Mandaric - bolstered by Gaydamak's cash - has realised that staying in the Premiership is paramount, especially if he is also to fulfil his medium-term aim of selling the rest of his stake in the club to his new millionaire partner.

Redknapp has worked with Portsmouth's chief executive Peter Storrie in identifying this month's transfer targets. As with any club, separate lists of players exist - an "A" list of first-choice targets and a fall-back shadow list of alternatives. Sometimes this even stretches to a third or fourth list.

It explains why clubs are often linked to bids for more than one player in each position. Portsmouth, for example, have made inquiries about at least four goalkeepers. They do not want to be left with no one, as Arsenal found out last season when they simply targeted Seville's Julio Baptista, and it also helps if would-be signings and their clubs know they are not the only choice. There is also the added aggravation of being aligned by agents to other players, especially, as with events at Fratton Park, when there has been a big injection of cash. Just ask Chelsea.

Even so, Redknapp is an extraordinary deal-maker. Dave Bassett, until recently Southampton's caretaker manager, who coached for Redknapp at the club, said: "Harry's got an amazing network. He should have a phone stuck to his ear. You can be speaking to Harry and suddenly the phone goes and he's holding two conversations."

Bassett claimed - as Redknapp has himself - that Gaydamak's arrival was a complete shock. "It's probably a bit of a surprise to him that he's got money to spend because when I was speaking to him just after Christmas he didn't know then that the guy was coming in from Russia," Bassett said. "He was talking about people he could get in on loan. He's got people who know - whether it's French players or Zimbabwean, or [other] African players. That's how he got people like [Diomansy] Kamara and Yakubu and people like that. He gets them over, has a look at them in training and decides from there. It's just a very unique way that Harry operates."

Even so, and despite the arrival of Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari for £4.1m from Auxerre, Redknapp has pledged to bring in players who are prepared for the English Premiership - hence his acquisition of the Spurs trio, who are all aged 26 but are surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane. "They're expensive, but the type of quality players we need to stay up," Mandaric said.

Redknapp is also understood to be scouring the French league in particular for more recruits and was yesterday linked to a £2m move for Sochaux's Senegalese defender Souleymane Diawara.

The arrival of Mendes is surprising as the Portuguese international, who won the Champions' League with Porto, had been hoping for a move back home and last week had privately dismissed Portsmouth's offer. He has appeared just six times for Spurs this season and has been desperate to leave.

At Portsmouth, he will form a central midfield partnership with Davis, who Fulham had hoped to take back on loan, with Pamarot, who had a brief spell at Fratton Park six years ago, pencilled in as right-back and also providing cover in central defence.

All three were signed by Spurs' former sporting director Frank Arnesen in 2004 for fees roughly equal to what Portsmouth are now paying.

Who's in, who might be in and who's on his way

IN

Benjani Mwaruwari, Striker, Auxerre, £4.1m

Emmanuel Olisadebe, Striker, Panathinaikos, Free

Pedro Mendes, Midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur*

Noe Pamarot, Defender, Tottenham Hotspur*

Sean Davis, Midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur*

(* Combined fee £7m)

INQUIRED ABOUT

Robert Green, Goalkeeper, Norwich City, £2.5m

Carlo Cudicini, Goalkeeper, Chelsea, £2.5m

Mark Schwarzer, Goalkeeper, Middlesbrough, £2.5m

Antti Niemi, Goalkeeper, Southampton, £1m

Glen Johnson, Defender, Chelsea, Proposed loan

Mark Delaney, Defender, Aston Villa, £500,000

Souleymane Diawara, Defender, Sochaux £2m

Marcel Desailly, Defender, Free agent

Anthony Gardner, Defender, Tottenham Hotspur, £2m

Michael Brown, Midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur, £2m

Lee Hendrie, Midfielder, Aston Villa, £1.5m

Lee Bowyer, Midfielder, Newcastle United, £1m

Nigel Quashie, Midfielder, Southampton, £1m

Amdy Faye, Midfielder, Newcastle, £1m

Danny Murphy, Midfielder, Charlton Athletic, £3m

Jason Euell, Striker, Charlton Athletic, £1.5m

Dean Ashton, Striker, Norwich City, £7m

Steffen Iversen, Striker, Unattached, On trial

Peter Lovenkrands, Striker, Rangers, Nominal

Benni McCarthy, Striker, Porto, £6.5m

Fatih Tekke, Striker, Trabzonspor, £3.5m

Cameron Jerome, Striker, Cardiff City, £2m

SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS

Laurent Robert, Already gone

Giannis Skopelitis, Already gone

Zvonimir Vukic; Sander Westerveld; Brian Priske; John Viafara; Dario Silva; Gregory Vignal; Azar Karadas; Collins Mbesuma; Kostas Chalkias

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