Villa move to clear obstacles to signing Defoe

Aston Villa have finally made their move to try to sign Jermain Defoe and have received encouragement that the striker is keen to join them. However, there are several stumbling blocks to the deal, not least that Tottenham Hotspur are believed to be demanding more than the £10m that Villa are prepared to pay for the 25-year-old.

Spurs, despite their head coach, Juande Ramos, giving Defoe a dressing-down and telling him he can leave, still want the England international to sign the new contract he has been stalling on. Defoe is also trying to change agents, which may complicate any deal.

Spurs, who would prefer to sell Darren Bent and have told Queen's Park Rangers they will have to pay £2.8m to sign Wayne Routledge, have dropped their interest in the Lyons striker Fred, which may also affect their thinking. It is understood that the Brazilian's wage demands killed the deal even though a £9m transfer was close to being agreed.

It was claimed yesterday that Defoe, who has also interested Portsmouth, although they initially proposed a loan deal, had met the Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, and although that was quickly denied it is understood talks have taken place with club representatives. O'Neill has made signing a striker his main priority and made inquiries about Liverpool's Peter Crouch and Newcastle United's Obafemi Martins, but they will stay where they are.

In a busy day in the West Midlands, O'Neill yesterday gave permission for Birmingham City to speak to central defender Gary Cahill after agreeing a fee of £4m. However, it is thought that Cahill would prefer to go on loan before signing a permanent deal.

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