Tottenham Hotspur have told Dimitar Berbatov that he can leave only if they sign two strikers before the transfer deadline on Monday and they hope that the second, after Roman Pavlyuchenko, will be Andrei Arshavin.
Spurs have revived their interest in Arshavin, whom they now believe they can sign for less than £20m.
With Pavlyuchenko already secured for £12m from Spartak Moscow, Spurs reopened talks with Zenit St Petersburg over Arshavin this week because they feel they have to start the season with three recognised strikers in the event of Berbatov departing for Manchester United. In recent days Zenit have signalled that they are ready to modify their hard-line stance on a £25m fee for Arshavin, having signed a potential replacement in Danny from Dynamo Moscow.
For their part Tottenham have told Berbatov that they do not regard Pavlyuchenko's signing alone as sufficient reason for the Bulgarian to leave the club. They currently have only Pavlyuchenko, whom they do not think they will have signed in time to play against Chelsea on Sunday, and Darren Bent. Arshavin's signing would give them the cover they need. They also believe it would be easier for the Russians to settle into English football if they were playing in the same team
Nevertheless, it stands to be Spurs' biggest-ever summer outlay, with David Bentley Luka Modric, Heurelho Gomes, Giovani Dos Santos and John Bostock all arriving. Before renewing interest in Arshavin, Spurs had been exploring the possibility of signing the England striker Emile Heskey from Wigan Athletic, despite his manager Steve Bruce's insistence he was not prepared to sell.
Heskey has one year left on his contract and is still unsure as to whether Bruce, who signed him at Birmingham City, is convinced of his value. While Wigan have said that they do not want to part with the England international, who played in the second half for Fabio Capello's team against the Czech Republic last week, they do risk losing Heskey for nothing next summer.
Tottenham also looked at the possibility of signing Vincenzo Iaquinta from Juventus. The 28-year-old Italy international fitted the profile of the target-man striker that Tottenham had been pursuing – they were also keen on Peter Crouch before he joined Portsmouth – but have not pushed on with the deal. With four days left in the transfer window, Spurs have also not acted on a potential deal for Diego Milito, 29, the Real Zaragoza striker.
While Heskey did not fit the bill of a typical Spurs signing – they prefer young players, preferably British, with the potential to be sold on at a profit – these are desperate times for the club. With Berbatov wanting a move to Manchester United they have struggled to find a striker that gives their squad the balance it needs.
Pavlyuchenko is expected in London before the end of the week, although he is unlikely to be available for selection for Sunday's game at Chelsea. Spurs are happy with the price they secured for the Russian striker, which is considerably less than Spartak Moscow originally wanted. Having lost the first two games of their season – and with Berbatov regarded as having been in the wrong state of mind to play against Sunderland on Saturday – the wheeling and dealing of another transfer window has come at a price.