Tottenham face battle for Kameni and 'Spiderman'
Tottenham Hotspur are at the centre of two battles with other Premier League clubs over their summer transfer targets. They have reached an agreement with Espanyol to sign the highly-rated goalkeeper Carlos Kameni for £5m but face late competition from Aston Villa – while Portsmouth's hopes of finally securing the Argentine international Jonas Gutierrez for around £8.3m may be hijacked by Spurs.
The likelihood is that Spurs will secure Kameni and miss out on Gutierrez although Portsmouth, who hope to make three high profile signings, are anxious that because their rivals are in London and managed by a Spaniard, Juande Ramos, they may steal away the 25-year-old winger from Real Mallorca.
Spurs' representatives travelled to Barcelona three weeks ago to reach agreement with Kameni, who is contracted to Espanyol until 2010 and has indicated he wants to leave, and who will replace Paul Robinson as the club's first-choice keeper. They are confident they have fought off competition from Valencia and Atletico Madrid, who have offered less money for the 24-year-old from Cameroon. Robinson's availability will alert Middlesbrough and Villa, although they, too, would prefer to sign Kameni having decided against turning Scott Carson's loan deal into a permanent transfer. That is partly because of his unconvincing displays after a promising first half of the season but also because Liverpool maintain they want £10m for him.
Villa are stepping up their interest in Steve Sidwell who is available from Chelsea for around £5m. They insist the midfielder is not being signed to replace Gareth Barry although the likelihood is the 27-year-old will be heading to Liverpool in the summer.
Villa manager Martin O'Neill discussed his transfer plans with club owner Randy Lerner on Monday and said yesterday that the American millionaire is hoping to attend Sunday's league meeting with Everton. "While we want to get things up and running I haven't gone out and actively pursued targets," O'Neill said. "We are scouting players all over Europe though." Villa's attempts to sign another goalkeeper, the American Brad Guzan, for £2m collapsed in January because he was refused a work permit.
Portsmouth are also set to be busy this summer. Gutierrez – known as Jonas – has been a long-term target and they tried to sign him in January but the winger, who can play on either flank and is nicknamed "Spiderman" because of his elaborate goal celebrations, should arrive this summer.
Portsmouth want to add another central defender – and have registered an interest in Spurs' Younes Kaboul, who they tried to sign before his move to White Hart Lane, and Rennes' John Mensah – and at least one striker with manager Harry Redknapp a great admirer of Liverpool's Peter Crouch. Any potential deals could be partly funded by the sale of John Utaka, who cost £7m from Rennes last year, but has been inconsistent while several clubs, including Spurs, are interested in Sulley Muntari. Redknapp said he expected Utaka to stay but an offer, which would re-coup the money spent on him, could be difficult to refuse.
Portsmouth's chief executive, Peter Storrie, said yesterday that the club would be active in the transfer market. "The squad is strong at the moment, but of the current squad we are probably looking at bringing in another three," he said. "One or two may want to go. That tends to happen when people are not in the team regularly, so obviously there could be more than that if others leave. But we are looking at three and have already been working on a few – you'll hear all about those in the summer. These are big names. We're bringing in only quality players now."