Spurs close on Garcia, with Bentley next

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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur are in talks to sign the striker Luis Garcia from Espanyol and are planning to launch a bid for their long-term target David Bentley next week. The Spanish club are asking for €12m (£9.5m) for Garcia and, although Spurs insist they have not yet reached agreement on the fee, it appears that the two clubs are now not far apart.

Garcia, who began his career at Real Madrid and scored 13 goals last season, is keen to move to England and a deal should be announced next week, even though Espanyol maintained yesterday that Spurs were not the only option for the 27-year-old. Spurs have been in discussions with Espanyol for months about a variety of players, including the goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, defender Daniel Jarque and winger Albert Riera.

But Spurs' head coach, Juande Ramos, has decided to make his move for Garcia, who has one full Spanish cap, although he did not make the Euro 2008 squad. His arrival would sharpen the focus on the futures of Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Bent and Robbie Keane, although Garcia can also play on the left of midfield.

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, went public yesterday with his interest in signing Keane but Spurs insisted that they have no intention of selling their vice-captain and have not received a transfer request from him.

Spurs are closing in on an offer for the Blackburn winger Bentley and are confident that the 23-year-old England international will choose them ahead of Aston Villa, who have made the first move by lodging a bid of £10m. That falls far short of the valuation placed on Bentley by Rovers, who are seeking up to £17m for their prize asset.

It is unlikely that Spurs will want to offer that much, especially as they know Bentley wants to quit Blackburn after informing them at the end of last season that he had no intention of signing a new, improved contract. Spurs are prepared to negotiate with Blackburn over a series of players they are willing to offer in part exchange, which include the goalkeeper Paul Robinson, although he continues to interest Villa and may prefer to move there.

Spurs insist that they do not want to offer Aaron Lennon as part of any deal, although it would appear he would struggle to command a place in his preferred position of the right flank if Bentley is signed. It may be that Spurs will shift Lennon to the other flank, although they have also considered signing a number of left-wingers as well and had a bid for Seville's Diego Capel turned down last month.

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