• Premier League

Spurs keen on £12m Belhanda

ESPN staff
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Tottenham are interested in signing Montpellier playmaker Younes Belhanda, after the French club's president set a £12 million asking price for the midfielder.

Turkish side Fenerbahce started the bidding for Belhanda, a current Morocco international, this week with an offer worth around £6m plus add-ons - a deal that was quickly rejected by the Ligue 1 champions.

However, with Belhanda's current contract at the club due to expire in 18 months, Montpellier president Louis Nicollin confirmed that he would be willing to sell the 22-year-old if any club matched his £12m demands.

"I will let him leave, and I think he wants to leave as well," Nicollin told radio station RMC. "If they rise to €15m (£12.25m), everything will go through.

"It's normal that he goes elsewhere and flourishes. I think at Montpellier, that's it, it's finished."

Those demands appear to have scared off Fenerbahce, however.

"The current price being quoted is far too high," the Turkish club's chairman, Abdullah Kigili, told L'Equipe. "We have put our efforts to sign Younes Belhanda on hold - the asking price for Belhanda has risen to an astronomical level."

Spurs showed interest in the French-born player last summer, with Belhanda's versatility - he can play on either wing, in central midfield or behind a striker - believed to be attractive to Andre Villas-Boas, who is looking to bolster his squad in January as Spurs pursue Champions League qualification.

The Spurs manager is also hoping to conclude a deal for Lewis Holtby, the Schalke midfielder whose contract expires in the summer, before the window closes.

Nicollin added that he "would prefer an English club" to come in for Belhanda, suggesting there would be little trouble getting the transfer fee from a Premier League team.

Nicollin noted: "It's difficult to say that you don't trust a club like Fenerbahce, which has more credit than Montpellier, but if they give the money, there's no problem."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has previously expressed his admiration for Belhanda, although it remains to be seen if the Gunners will enter the race for the player now his departure is possible.

"I know Younes well and like him a lot," Wenger said last March. "But I don't want to cause problems. Only Montpellier can decide where he goes."

Belhanda is currently in South Africa, preparing for the forthcoming African Cup of Nations with Morocco.

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