Tottenham are being frustrated by the huge £24m valuation that Portsmouth have placed on Jermain Defoe. Harry Redknapp is also fearful that when the January transfer window draws to a close, Manchester City may outbid him for both Defoe and Craig Bellamy.
As revealed in The Independent yesterday, Defoe (right) was unhappy at being left out of the Portsmouth squad for the match against Arsenal on Sunday before being reinstated – but only as a substitute. He would go back to Spurs, the club that he left last January, but Portsmouth are asking for £24m for one of their key assets. Having sold Lassana Diarra for around £22m to Real Madrid they are not prepared to allow Defoe to go cheaply.
The deal for Defoe to join Spurs has advantages for Portsmouth in that it would clear their outstanding balance on the £7m fee they agreed last January.
The advantage Redknapp has is that both Defoe and Craig Bellamy would prefer a move to Spurs over City, but the London club would be no match for the resources of City's owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group, if it came to an auction. City had a £15m bid for Bellamy and Scott Parker rejected by West Ham over the weekend and Parker, who lives in Surrey, also does not favour a move north. However, City seem prepared to test West Ham's resolve further.
West Ham and Portsmouth find themselves under siege even before the transfer window opens. Matthew Upson is also understood to be a target for Aston Villa but he has been told by West Ham that they do not wish to sell. However, it is Defoe's future that would appear to be the lynchpin to the process. Tony Adams admitted the player is unhappy following his exclusion on Sunday and, should he move to Spurs, that would allow City a free run at securing Bellamy's services.
The Portsmouth midfielder Sean Davis said that the club were prepared for the possibility of losing their biggest names. "If the club sell all our players it is unfortunate, but we have got to get on with it.
"That's going to happen with the players we have got. We have big-time players here – Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch and Sylvain Distin. It might be frustrating for the fans that we sell our top players and seem like we are not trying to progress. But the players who are playing have got to play their hearts out."