Tottenham Hotspur have held direct negotiations with André Villas-Boas and they are poised to offer him the manager's job. Tottenham officials met Villas‑Boas's agent in London last Friday and Saturday to explain what they were looking for in the successor to Harry Redknapp, who they sacked last Wednesday. But they have since accelerated the process by speaking directly to Villas-Boas.
The 34-year-old Portuguese, who was dismissed by Chelsea in March, was initially unsure whether he was the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy's first choice for the vacancy. He felt that Levy had other candidates in mind, which was true, with Everton's David Moyes numbering among them. But it has become clear that Villas‑Boas is the man that Levy wants to lead Tottenham into a new era.
The sacking of Redknapp represented a gamble, as he had led the club to fourth-, fifth- and fourth-placed finishes in the Premier League in the past three seasons, only missing out on Champions League qualification last month when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the final of the competition.
Villas-Boas knows that Levy's minimum requirement is to qualify for Europe's elite tournament. The chairman also wants to be challenging for the league title in the near future. Redknapp often said he thought "there was a championship in this club". It is a demanding brief and the jury remains out in some quarters over Villas‑Boas. He has plenty to prove after his ill-fated Chelsea tenure, when he failed to impose his will on the squad's strong personalities. It hurt his reputation that, after his dismissal, the team recovered to win the Champions League and FA Cup under Roberto Di Matteo. But Levy has come to view Villas-Boas as the dynamic young coach to drive the club forward.
Villas-Boas and his representative have sought assurances about the future of Tottenham's best players, chief among them the midfielder Luka Modric, who has exited Euro 2012 with Croatia and is determined to be granted a big transfer this summer. Villas‑Boas tried to sign Modric when he was at Chelsea last summer, only for Levy to block the £40m proposal.
It is unclear whether Levy will be able to hold on to Modric for another season, although he is empowered to hold the player to his contract, which has four years to run. He is adamant he would not sell Modric to Chelsea or Manchester United but he may be more receptive to a bid from Real Madrid, particularly if the sum on offer was upwards of £40m.
Tottenham's new manager, though, will be granted a large transfer kitty to reshape the squad in his image, and it stands to be even larger if Modric were to leave. The priority area is centre-forward. The club are struggling to satisfy Emmanuel Adebayor's wage demands to make his loan move from Manchester City permanent; they have not taken up the option on Louis Saha. Jermain Defoe is the only established striker.
Levy is keen to find a more senior role within the set-up for Tim Sherwood, the youth development squad coach. Sherwood survived the cull of Redknapp's backroom staff, which accounted for Kevin Bond, Joe Jordan and Clive Allen, because Levy considers him to be an asset to the club.
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image: © Vladimir Maiorov