Tottenham last night agreed a £3m fee with Everton for Steven Pienaar, which represents their first major victory over Chelsea in the transfer market since the Roman Abramovich revolution was launched in 2003.
The deal followed Chelsea's refusal to budge on the wages for the midfielder, who would have been out of contract at Everton in the summer and for whom they agreed a fee with the club last week. The Spurs chairman Daniel Levy spoke to his Everton counterpart Bill Kenwright yesterday to complete the transfer.
Despite their defeat in the pursuit of Pienaar, Chelsea are expected to make a renewed effort to sign the Benfica defender David Luiz after they learned that Alex has suffered another setback in his recovery from a knee injury.
The club have already had two bids for the Brazilian defender turned down but their need is the greater now that they fear Alex will not be back for another two weeks. They have previously offered £17m and then £19m plus the Portuguese defender Paulo Ferreira to Benfica.
The stance on Pienaar represents a new hardline policy from Chelsea not to bow to wage demands despite the club having been the biggest payers in English football before the Sheikh Mansour takeover of Manchester City.
Chelsea said to Pienaar they would not match wages of up to £70,000-a-week that are believed to be around the level offered by Spurs. It is understood that Spurs was always Pienaar's first choice.
Pienaar's Everton team-mate Sylvain Distin said that the Toffees should not find themselves in a position where they were losing their best players.
Distin said: “It's disappointing to lose Steven. You don't want to lose one of your best players but that's football. Everywhere I've been it's been the same, there's not much we can do.”