Tottenham are set to miss out on Joao Moutinho in January with the Porto playmaker having changed his mind over a potential switch to White Hart Lane.
Paris Saint-Germain are now hot favourites to land the 26-year-old and are understood to be preparing a huge January bid, while Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg are also likely to make a move.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas made Moutinho his top target in the last transfer window but the player’s wage demands - plus administrative errors and wrangling with Porto - meant the proposed €27 million deal was not completed before the deadline.
Villas-Boas had hoped to make a renewed effort to sign Moutinho in January but the finances involved in the deal are now beyond Spurs’ means, while the former Sporting Lisbon man has cooled on the switch and is eager to play for a club in the Champions League.
Moutinho could earn in excess of €184,000-a-week at PSG or Zenit on top of a transfer fee of up to €37m, with Porto notoriously tough negotiators and likely to increase the asking price as the sale of Hulk to Zenit for €39.4m leaves them with little need for the money.
Spurs were angered by the Portuguese champions’ conduct on the final day of the summer window and are considering alternative options in the knowledge that they cannot compete with the financial might of PSG.
The French club have made contact with Moutinho’s representatives over a January deal, although a transfer could be put on hold until next summer depending on Porto’s progress in the Champions League.
Moutinho’s agent, Pini Zahavi, has also tried to broker a deal with Barcelona but the Spanish giants are overloaded with creative midfielders and will not consider a bid.
Mousa Dembele has played as Spurs’ deep-lying playmaker so far this season but Villas-Boas wants another versatile midfielder to add to his options, with Shakhtar Donetsk star Willian still on the club’s radar.