Bundesliga club Schalke 04 have confirmed Tottenham Hotspur are negotiating for the early transfer of midfielder Lewis Holtby. The 22-year-old German international is due to join the White Hart Lane club in the summer, ahead of the 2013/14 season, on a free transfer.
However, a season-ending injury to Brazilian midfielder Sandro, in addition to England internationals Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone attracting interest, according to the Daily Mail, from London rivals Fulham, means Andre Villas-Boas' side have begun the process of bringing Holtby to north London a few months ahead of schedule.
Schalke, who are fifth in the German league, appear to be amenable to the idea of losing Holtby in January, particularly since this will see them receive a transfer fee from Spurs.
"There is a request from Tottenham. The offer is not acceptable," the club's general manager, Horst Heldt, said in a report by Goal.com, adding, "But the transfer window is still open. Lewis has not become cheaper today."
Holtby is having an excellent season in the German league, with four goals and seven assists from 17 Bundesliga starts. All in all, the midfielder has four goals and 10 assists from 26 appearances this season. He was in brilliant form on Friday, when the league resumed after its winter break, as Schalke beat Hannover 96 5-4; Holtby scored once and set up two other goals in that game.
Meanwhile, the player himself has remained non-committal over Spurs' January approach, insisting that until he was told otherwise, he would remain a Schalke player and do his best for the club.
"I will give all for Schalke until the last second. Everything else must be decided by the clubs responsible," he said.
United Defender Admits Bale Concern
Finally, Manchester United defender Phil Jones says he expects a stern test from Spurs' Welsh winger Gareth Bale. Tottenham face the Premier League leaders on Sunday 20 January, in what could be a defining important game for the London club's season.
"Spurs have done well this season. They've got some brilliant individual players and we'll have to be wary of them all," Jones told United's website, adding, "It'll be a test for whoever comes up against Gareth Bale - he's a great player. They have a lot of good individual players, but if we work collectively as a team hopefully we can stop him."
The 23-year-old Bale, who has been linked with a £33m move to Spanish champions Real Madrid, scored in Spurs' historic 3-2 win over United at Old Trafford, in this season's earlier meeting between the two clubs.