The Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez is a target for Tottenham Hotspur this transfer window and his club Ajax have indicated privately that they would be prepared to sell the player for a fee of around £17m.
The decision on Suarez was the key issue at the club before Harry Redknapp raised the possibility of the loan signing of David Beckham on Friday which has dominated over the weekend. However, there are doubts among key figures at Spurs as to whether signing Beckham until March would be a wise move – and even Redknapp is thought to be less sure than he might have indicated.
While Redknapp has changed his mind dramatically in the past on major decisions, including those in his own managerial career, the indications yesterday were that Spurs would not follow-up with their interest in Beckham.
Redknapp, whose side play Everton at Goodison Park tomorrow, has been told by chairman Daniel Levy he will have funds to spend in the transfer window but a priority is a striker with Robbie Keane on his way out this month.
The prospect of signing Suarez, 23, is regarded as more in keeping with the club's possibility of signing young talent at good value and the debate at Spurs is whether he would be able to replicate his prolific Dutch league goalscoring in the Premier League.
The total cost of a deal for Suarez is also likely to break Spurs' relatively modest current transfer record of around £15.5m for Luka Modric. Impressive at the World Cup finals in South Africa, Suarez interested Spurs last summer and the signs from Ajax are that they are now prepared to cash in on a player who is regarded as one of the best in the Dutch league.
Redknapp will have the final say and he is not completely convinced of the Suarez's capacity to succeed in the English game. Any deal would also be contingent on moving on Keane for whom Spurs expect to have offers this month from the likes of Everton, Newcastle, Birmingham City and Stoke City.
The disadvantage for Spurs is that Suarez is also cup-tied for the Champions League group stages. The top goalscorer in the Dutch league with 35 last season, he has been the subject of controversy this season after he was suspended for seven games by the Dutch football association, the KNVB, in November for biting the shoulder of opponent Otman Bakkal in a game against PSV Eindhoven.
As for Beckham, the player's representatives know that they face major opposition from within the Major League Soccer hierarchy at yet another loan deal. Quite apart from the Achilles injury Beckham suffered playing for Milan in March, the MLS feel that his annual trips back to play in Europe over the past two years have diminished his value to their "brand".
They fear that the inevitable attention that would surround his return to the Premier League would see him regarded more as Tottenham's property than that of the Los Angeles Galaxy whose season begins in March.
Beckham's management team will negotiate with the MLS over the next week to get some understanding on whether he can go on loan to Europe over the next three months. The player has a preference for Spurs, although his spokesman said yesterday that more than one offer was on the table.
The story was ignited by Redknapp who said in his press conference that he was interested in the 35-year-old, thus contradicting everything said by the club up to that point. Redknapp's decision to express a public interest in Beckham is understood to have been impulsive and provoked by his frustration at David Bentley, who had pulled out of a training session.