Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, fears a potential deal for David Beckham being rendered a "waste of time" if Los Angeles Galaxy take too long deciding whether to sanction a short-term loan.
Beckham wants to play at White Hart Lane until the start of the Major League Soccer season in March but his team have yet to give him permission, leading to fears over the impact the 35-year-old would have if he joined late in the current transfer window.
"It can't go too long or it'd be a waste of time," Redknapp said yesterday. "By the time David comes here and settles in, if it's four, five or six weeks then it's a waste. I was looking at three months, really. Suddenly we're talking nine weeks, or nine or 10 games, and it's getting less and less."
Beckham would be in contention for more than 10 games if he arrived in time to face Manchester United, his former club, on 16 January. "I'm not cooling on the idea but if it's only a very short-term deal it can be a problem, as much as I like him," Redknapp added.
While Beckham's aim is to maintain his fitness and force his way back into Fabio Capello's England squad, Redknapp wants the midfielder to use his experience to help Tottenham's Premier League title challenge.
Spurs travel to Goodison Park tonight and face another player Redknapp is interested in. He is monitoring Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, whose contract runs out at the end of the season. "If he doesn't sign a contract he'll be a great free transfer for someone at the end of the year if he doesn't stay at Everton," Redknapp said.
Redknapp also revealed he is an admirer of the Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra, but believes the Spanish club will refuse to sell the player he once bought at Portsmouth.
David Bentley and Robbie Keane will be allowed to leave the club but only on permanent deals rather than loans, while Niko Kranjcar is a player Redknapp wants to keep if the Croatia midfielder is prepared to be patient and wait for his first-team chance. "Niko is not the type you can replace," Redknapp said. "He will get back in and will get a chance to play in a tough second half of the season. I would really love to keep him here."
Jonathan Woodgate will be loaned out after recovering from a groin problem. "It's cured, hopefully," Redknapp said. "He took injections to take the pain away. It's like having backache and you wake up one day and it's gone. He's going through that at the moment."
Ahead of tonight's match, Alan Hutton will have a foot injury checked and William Gallas is hoping to recover from tight hamstrings.
It is the return fixture of one of the few occasions when Gareth Bale has been kept quiet this season, with veteran defender Phil Neville doing what Internazionale's Maicon failed to do in the Champions League.
"Neville played him well but he would because he is a top-class right-back with experience," Redknapp said. "He [Bale] knows what he's doing. He's going to work that bit harder to get the ball. When he does he has to use the opportunities and he's been doing that. He's been doing great for us but it's not going to get any easier for him."