Spurs want £9m Hoilett to bolster Europe hopes
Blackburn's 21-year-old forward has stalled on a new contract and is now a target for Redknapp
Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, is closing in on a move for the Blackburn forward Junior Hoilett in the January transfer window as he looks to strengthen his side in the chase for a Champions League slot. The Ewood Park club have all but given up hope of retaining their most valuable asset, who has thus far refused to sign a new contract despite being offered the chance to become one of the best-paid players in Blackburn's history.
Venky's, the Indian poultry concern which owns the club, yesterday confirmed that manager Steve Kean has agreed a revised contract at Ewood Park. It is believed the new terms increase the Scot's salary, although the 43-year-old – who has won just three of his last 26 games – would now be due less compensation should he be dismissed.
A statement released by the club read: "Following recent media speculation Blackburn Rovers FC can confirm a revision to manager Steve Kean's existing contract has been completed. An agreement made in the summer has now been formalised. Contrary to some reports there is no change to the length of the contract."
Blackburn's attempts to finalise a deal with Hoilett, the club's outstanding player this season, have been rather less successful. The 21-year-old Canadian had been offered a salary which would have made him one of the highest earners at Ewood Park, but talks have stalled over the club's desire to insert a release clause, reported to be as high as £18m, into the agreement.
Sources at the club have now privately admitting they are losing hope of persuading Hoilett, a youth-team product, to remain in Lancashire. Despite suggestions earlier this month that Blackburn would be happy to allow him to run down his current deal and leave on a free transfer this summer, it is thought Venky's would now prefer to recoup what they can.
Both Newcastle and Arsenal have been linked with Hoilett, but it is Redknapp who is believed to be the most enthusiastic suitor for the forward, capable of playing on both flanks and through the middle. The 64-year-old is keen to bolster his resources after seeming to lose faith both in Niko Kranjcar and Steven Pienaar, who has endured an injury-hit 11 months since moving to White Hart Lane from Everton last January.
Though Blackburn rate Hoilett as as valuable as Phil Jones, who they sold to Manchester United for £16.5m last summer, Spurs would not expect to pay that sort of figure for a player who could leave for nothing in six months' time. A fee of around £9m, though, could tempt an increasingly fatalistic Blackburn into a deal.
The Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel, meanwhile, has revealed he is keen to extend his stay at the club beyond the end of next season. "If you can keep yourself free of major injury and you want to keep playing, then you can play for a while, much longer than an outfield player could," the 40-year-old said.
"It can he done, if you want it – and I certainly do. I don't find it remarkable that a 40-year-old can still play. My body doesn't feel the way someone might think a 40-year-old should feel."
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