James Rodriguez
Porto's James Rodriguez celebrates his goal against Academica during their Portuguese Premier League football match at the Dragao stadium in Porto, on 11 November 2012

Tottenham will challenge Premier League leaders Manchester United for the signature of Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, according to the Express. It is understood Spurs are preparing for the eventual departure of Welsh international Gareth Bale, whose links to Spanish champions Real Madrid grow almost daily.

Sir Alex Ferguson, for his part, is believed to want Rodriguez as a potential replacement for Nani. The 26-year-old Portugal international is in the midst of a contract stand-off with the club and unless an agreement is reached, he will likely leave in the summer; his contract runs to 2014 but Ferguson will probably look to sell earlier and maximise transfer fees.

The Express indicates reports from Spain suggest a £24.8m fee will be needed to convince Portuguese club FC Porto to part with their star.

Spurs' boss Andre Villas-Boas' knowledge of the Portuguese transfer market will no doubt come in handy during negotiations, as will the fact the ex-Chelsea manager, who was born in the city of Porto, guided the team to the treble (league, domestic cup and UEFA Europa League) in 2011.

AVB was strongly linked with another of Porto's stars - midfielder Joao Moutinho - for most of the summer and the run-up to the January transfer window. Unfortunately for White Hart Lane fans, the clubs were unable to agree a fee for the 26-year-old Portuguese international who had an excellent European Championships with his national side last summer.

Bale - Tottenham - Rodriguez

Should Bale leave for Madrid in the summer, and it has been strongly suggested he will, Spurs will need to find an equally decisive attacker to spearhead their time in the Champions League; given present form and league positions, it is likely the north London club will beat their rivals to one of two remaining positions for Europe's elite tournament next season, with the other going to Chelsea.

Rodriguez has seven goals from 14 appearances in the Portuguese league and eight goals and an assist in 21 games overall. By contrast, Bale has 20 strikes and six assists from 34 games. However, that should not detract from any move for the South American.

The 21-year-old has been credited with an excellent first touch and close-control ball skills, which should make him a defender's nightmare. In addition, he has considerable pace and, statistically, has better results from a wide position, this season, than Nani. And the fact he had 13 goals from 20 league games last season is indicative of him being a constant goal threat when he cuts in from the wing... not unlike Bale and ex-United star Cristiano Ronaldo.