Tottenham Hotspur have underlined their intentions to establish themselves as a European force by lodging a club-record offer for Giuseppe Rossi, the Italy international.
Though Villarreal are expected to reject the Premier League club’s €22million (Dh129m) bid, Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, is prepared to increase the figure as he seeks to provide Harry Redknapp with an elite finisher.
Having already outmuscled Chelsea in acquiring Steven Pienaar from Everton, the club’s move for Rossi emphasises Tottenham’s intention to retain their Champions League status at the expense of their London rivals.
Rossi, 23, has scored consistently for Villarreal since joining the Spanish side from Manchester United in the summer of 2007.
So far this season the Italian-American has netted 17 goals in 30 appearances, including five goals in seven Europa League ties.
Villarreal’s participation in Europe’s secondary competition leaves Rossi eligible to play in Tottenham’s Champions League knockout games.
While Rossi has talked about his desire to join a higher-status club than Villarreal to forward his international ambitions, the Spanish side are reluctant to sell. Sources in Spain, though, believe an offer of €27m might persuade them to sell Rossi, who will also expect premium wages at White Hart Lane.
After bringing in Pienaar to reinforce his midfield – the South Africa international can play every position in the middle of the park – Redknapp has pushed to recruit a striker capable of leading the line while converting a higher percentage of chances than his existing forwards.
Redknapp, who has doubts about all four of his current strikers, is in the process of selling Robbie Keane and would let Roman Pavyluchenko or Peter Crouch leave.
Though no formal offer has been lodged with Ajax, Tottenham have also placed Luis Suarez at the top of their recruitment list.
The Uruguay international is open to a move to England, though the Amsterdam club’s asking price is higher than the €22m offered for Rossi.
While Redknapp has a long-standing interest in Luis Fabiano and Sevilla are ready to cash in on the Brazil centre-forward, Levy is reluctant to invest heavily in a 30-year-old with limited resale value.
Tottenham’s transfer record remains the £16.5m spent on Luka Modric in 2008.