West Ham United have been frustrated in their attempts to sign Ashley Young - despite offering a record £9.65m for the 21-year-old.
Young's club, Watford, are still expected to sell the winger in the January transfer window but it now appears likely that he will move to Tottenham Hotspur in a player-plus-cash deal involving the defender Calum Davenport.
Watford have always been reluctant to sell Young to one of their relegation rivals but are understood to have accepted West Ham's astonishing offer of £8m plus £1.65m in add-ons for the England Under-21 international on Sunday evening.
Watford's 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday left them 10 points adrift of safety. Following a board meeting it appears they have decided to cash in on Young, who has scored four times in 23 matches this season and is regarded as one of the country's emerging talents.
Young, who has attracted bids from five Premiership clubs, has apparently refused to discuss personal terms with West Ham, who have nevertheless not given up hope of signing the player, despite being offered around £50,000-a-week.
It may be that Watford are stalling for time, and waiting to see what other bids come in, before parting with their prized asset. Aston Villa also remain interested but have so far offered just £5m plus £1m in add-ons and do not want to offer much higher.
It is believed that Young is keen to move to White Hart Lane but Watford are unlikely to be offered anywhere near as much money by Spurs as is on the table from West Ham. However, Watford are interested in Davenport, having also expressed an interest in Wayne Routledge, currently on loan at Fulham.
An added complication is the fact that Spurs would probably want to sign a central defender before Davenport leaves, especially as there are concerns about Ledley King's fitness. The Tottenham captain has missed the past four matches with a bruised foot and has also suffered this season from ongoing knee problems.
Spurs want to sign West Bromwich Albion's Curtis Davies - but they will not pay the £9m fee that West Bromwich have reportedly set - while their £4m bid for West Ham's Anton Ferdinand was firmly rejected.
At the same time Tottenham are believed to be looking at alternatives to Young, who can play on either wing or as a striker. One of those is thought to be the Celta Vigo left-winger Nene.
The 25-year-old Brazilian played - and scored his side's only goal - in Celta Vigo's defeat to Atletico Madrid on Sunday. The match was attended by the Tottenham sporting director Damien Comolli with Nene understood to be available for around €10m (£6.5m).
Spurs would still prefer to sign Young, but it may be that the London club will not want to broker a deal until the end of the transfer window.
West Ham turned to Young after the Upton Park club had failed in their £10m bid for Chelsea's England international, Shaun Wright-Phillips. The two clubs had agreed a fee for the winger but Phillips did not want to move.
This latest apparent snub is a huge blow to West Ham especially as it appears that, following their 3-3 draw at home to Fulham on Saturday, they are suffering an injury crisis.
It is feared that the Argentine midfielder Carlos Tevez could be out of action for up to five weeks with a calf tear while hamstring injuries will rule out the central defenders Danny Gabbidon and James Collins.
The injuries to West Ham's rearguard means that the manager Alan Curbishley will now make signing more defenders a priority. He has already targeted a right-back and a central defender. Talks have taken place to sign Lauren on a free transfer from Arsenal with a final decision on the Cameroonian's future expected this week.
West Ham also remain interested in Bolton Wanderers' Talal Ben Haim but Chelsea are likely to rekindle their enquiry for the Israeli who is understood to want to move to the Premiership champions.