Jonathan Woodgate yesterday completed his £7.5m move to Tottenham Hotspur – although Spurs are less likely to secure the signing of Rangers' full-back Alan Hutton before the transfer window closes on Thursday unless the £8m asking price is re-negotiated.
Woodgate underwent a medical in London at the weekend before returning to Teesside and then travelled back to the Spurs training ground yesterday to complete the formalities of his move with sporting director Damien Comolli. He has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract for an undisclosed fee which is thought to be a down-payment of £6m plus a further £1.5m based on appearances.
Spurs have beaten off competition from Newcastle United and, according to Boro chief executive Keith Lamb, a third Premier League team to sign Woodgate. That club is not, however, Arsenal with their manager Arsène Wenger at pains to "categorically" deny he was interested in the 28-year-old England international.
"I do not know where that story came from. There is no truth in it at all," Wenger says in his programme notes for tonight's league meeting with Newcastle. "We have never been in touch with Middlesbrough about Jonathan Woodgate."
The notes were compiled after reports in the morning claimed that Arsenal had made a move for the former Leeds United, Newcastle and Real Madrid defender.
Wenger also said that injuries to Kolo Touré and Tomas Rosicky are not as serious as first feared. Touré flew to Paris to have a groin injury assessed by Arsenal's medical staff and then returned to Ghana to re-join the Ivory Coast squad at the African Nations. He is expected to be out for "eight to 10 days", while Rosicky's hamstring injury should also be a "question of days, not weeks", according to Wenger.
It may be that Lamb's revelation on Woodgate – and there are doubts that a third club ever existed – was an attempt to hurry up the Spurs deal. Even though he completed his permanent £7m transfer to the Riverside only last April, Boro identified the injury-prone Woodgate as surplus to requirements, following the emergence of David Wheater and Robert Huth's return to fitness.
Boro have made signing the Heerenveen striker Afonso Alves their priority and expect to complete the tortuous £12m transfer this week – although they will have to mount a case for the Brazilian being granted a work permit on grounds of his "exceptional ability". He does not have enough international caps.
Woodgate's departure is expected to mean that Stewart Downing, a long-term Spurs target, will stay at Boro for now, although his agent Ian Elliott stressed yesterday that the 23-year-old winger had no intention of signing a new deal unless the terms on offer were improved.
Boro rate Downing, who has two years left on his contract, at £12m, although Spurs have only offered around £8m.
"Stewart has made his position quite clear to all parties, so we are surprised by comments released by the manager saying that he has been informed that he is staying and has accepted the situation," Elliott said. Spurs are likely to return for Downing in the summer.
The situation with Hutton is even more complicated. A fee was agreed three weeks ago before the 23-year-old decided he wanted to stay in Scotland. Since then he has changed agents and is now represented by Rob Segal. His new representative has tried to resurrect the deal.
Hutton travelled to London for further talks, but Spurs now sense that they have the stronger hand and may not be so willing to pay £8m for the Scotland international. More straightforward should be the imminent arrival of Brazilian left-back Gilberto from Hertha Berlin for £1.8m, even if it is a surprise to see Spurs sign a 31-year-old.
Half-time: Woodgate's record
Leeds United (1998-2003): 142 of possible 232 games (61 per cent)
Newcastle United (2003-2004): 37/73 (51 per cent)
Real Madrid (2004-2007): 12/104 (12 per cent)
Middlesbrough (2006-2007, on loan): 33/41 (80 per cent)
Middlesbrough (2007-2008): 19/30 (63 per cent)
(*All competitions, including substitute appearances)
Career record: 243/480 (51 per cent)Reuse content