Palermo yesterday claimed that Tottenham Hotspur have bid £28m for both defender Simon Kjaer and striker Edinson Cavani, a suggestion the north London club refuted, saying that the Italians were trying to bump up the price for the pair.
Tottenham issued an official denial after Palermo's president Maurizio Zamparini claimed Spurs had offered a €35m (£28m) offer for the pair. Zamparini told an Italian TV station: "Tottenham have bid €35m, an offer we cannot refuse, seeing as the two players have both said they want to leave."
Tottenham swiftly responded with a denial of any bid. "Palermo's claims are inaccurate. We have not bid for these players," a club spokesman said. However, the club did not deny interest in both players, who have been watched by scouts from Tottenham for the past couple of months.
Sources at Tottenham say Palermo are attempting to generate greater interest in their biggest assets in an attempt to increase the price. Both players are certain to leave Palermo this summer. Cavani, 23, has been impressive as Uruguay have progressed to the quarter-finals, where they will meet Ghana on Friday. Manchester City have also shown interest in the 6ft 2in striker.
Cavani's possible arrival at White Hart Lane would probably signal the end of the line for Robbie Keane, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Celtic. Cavani, however, made it clear recently he would prefer a move to Champions League winners Internazionale, whose new manager is Rafael Benitez. Cavani said: "As a player I have two dreams: to do well at the World Cup and to wear the shirt of Inter Milan. It would be nice to stay in Italy fighting for the Scudetto and the Champions League with the Nerazzurri."
Tottenham also face competition from Manchester United for Danish centre-half Kjaer, 21, who has become a target of many of the top European clubs following two impressive seasons with Palermo, whom he joined from FC Midtjylland in 2008.
Kjaer is also a target for both Manchester clubs and Tottenham's north London rivals Arsenal. Kjaer's agent Mikkel Beck, the former Middlesbrough player, said he wants to play in the Champions League next season. Beck said: "Simon knows he can play in the Europa League with Palermo next season, but he is ready to take the next step and move up to a higher level. There are still one or two interesting clubs to consider."
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp wants Kjaer to give him greater depth in defence, as both Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate have long-term injury problems.
Real Madrid yesterday completed the £20m signing of Benfica's Argentina winger Angel Di Maria on a six-year deal. The 22-year-old, with the Argentina squad at the World Cup, was a potential target for Premier League clubs but Jose Mourinho moved first. Di Maria joins a remarkable array of attacking talent at the Bernabeu.