Tottenham had agreed to loan Erik Lamela to Marseille on transfer deadline day before their failure to land a replacement - thought to be long-term striker target Saido Berahino - eventually scuppered the deal, that is according to the French club's president Vincent Labrune.
The 23-year-old has struggled to impress and find any sort of consistency since moving to White Hart Lane from AS Roma in a club-record £30m ($45.8m) deal two years ago. After making 33 appearances in the Premier League last term, he has started just once for Mauricio Pochettino's side in the early stages of the 2015/16 campaign and was widely expected to return to Serie A before the close of the transfer window.
Father and agent Jose claimed last month that his son had entered talks over a switch to Inter, while Tottenham were also said to be willing to offer either Lamela or fellow winger Andros Townsend to Southampton in an attempt to sign midfielder Victor Wanyama. Neither of those transfers eventually came to pass, however, and as the clock ticked down towards the deadline it appeared that a loan move to the Stade Velodrome was the player's best option to start afresh.
Unfortunately for the Argentine, that proposed deal, thought to have been for the duration of the season with an option to complete a permanent move next summer, was also blocked after Tottenham's protracted pursuit of Berahino ended with a third and fourth bid - the latter reported by The Guardian to be worth a total of £25m - being dismissed out-of-hand by a defiant West Brom.
"On Aug. 31, we decided to wait for a better opportunity [to sign a striker] this winter and to concentrate on the ambitious dossier of Erik Lamela," a disappointed Labrune told French daily newspaper Le Parisien as relayed by ESPN. "We got the agreement of the player, his agent and the club but at 11 p.m. [local time] Tottenham -- when they weren't able to get a replacement -- put an end to negotiations."
Although Labrune does not reference Berahino by name, given the late timing of the negotiations and the club's last-ditch attempts to tempt West Brom into selling, it is probably safe to assume that he was the man whose arrival would have led to the Lamela deal being formalised without a hitch.
Tottenham, who conceded the most goals of any side in the top 10 of the Premier League last year, have strengthened their defensive options over recent months with the additions of centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer as well as highly-rated right-back Kieran Trippier. Clinton Njie and Heung-Min Son were bought in order to add greater depth to Pochettino's attack, although the club and specifically chairman Daniel Levy have come in for sustained criticism this week for their failure to capture another out-and-out striker to help provide support for the struggling Harry Kane.
The Supporters Trust have publicly complained that the squad looks light on bodies once again despite Spurs posting their highest-ever pre-tax profit of £80m and seeing revenues rise 22% to £180.5m. Concerns over how the financing of a new stadium was affecting the playing side of things were also raised, although Tottenham have since released their own statement in which Pochettino revealed that the signings of Njie and Son were made with the knowledge that a new forward might not be signed and Levy defended his transfer strategy as well as the practice of offering staggered payments.