• Internacional not prepared to sell Brazilian striker
• Villas-Boas believes any future bid would not be successful
André Villas-Boas has said Tottenham Hotspur were extremely close to signing Leandro Damião from Internacional in Brazil on transfer deadline day and that "a little more time probably would have helped" to conclude the deal. The Tottenham manager now thinks that the club's long-running pursuit of the Brazil centre-forward is over and there is no chance of a successful move for him in the summer.
Tottenham's position over the latest push for Damião was clear. They wanted him and they and Inter held amicable talks, which continued on Thursday, but an agreement could not be reached. Sources close to Inter say that Tottenham offered £13m whereas the London club say that Inter were simply not prepared to sell in January, as evidenced by their unrealistic valuation of the player, who is part owned by Atlético Ibirama.
Villas-Boas was in diplomatic mood but his comments raise the question as to why Tottenham tend to leave it so late to close difficult transfers. The club failed in an 11th-hour attempt to sign the midfielder João Moutinho from Porto in last summer's window, another player who has third-party ownership issues.
Villas-Boas had said that he would have liked fresh blood up front, given his switch to a 4-4-2 formation and the fact that his squad has only two specialist senior strikers – Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, who is currently at the Africa Cup of Nations with Togo. There had also been the sense that Tottenham would have benefited from a mid-season statement signing to fire their challenge for a Champions League finish.
"Things were very, very close, almost to the point of being agreed," Villas-Boas said, on the move for Damião. "I think it's a question of a little more time, probably, that would have helped. There was a third-party with Atlético, the club who own 30%; that wasn't a problem. On the whole dealings of the whole agreement with all the parties, we needed more time. It was not specifically one party's fault."
Villas-Boas said that it was "normally" more feasible for a European club to take a player from Brazil in January, before the national league has started, and he did not paint an optimistic picture regarding a further bid for Damião in the summer. "We have been in talks with Internacional before, for quite some time," he said. "Last summer, also. It hasn't been possible so I think it's finished.
"Brazilian clubs are more powerful, they have more money and Brazilian football has evolved so much that it could be that Brazilian players are willing to stay longer. Neymar [at Santos] is the perfect example."
Tottenham's young striker Harry Kane has been sent back to them by Norwich City, after an unsuccessful loan at Carrow Road, but Villas-Boas said it was possible he would be loaned to a Championship club, which has left him to rely upon the attacking midfielders Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson to contribute in support of Defoe and Adebayor. He also highlighted how the winger Gareth Bale could play through the middle.
Tottenham turned down three offers from Reading for Sigurdsson and Villas-Boas has challenged him to embrace the fierce competition for his place and improve his form.
The club play at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and Villas-Boas had a message for the fans, who were frustrated on transfer deadline day. "If this window hadn't opened, we sit fourth with the squad that we started the season with and we look pretty comfortable," he said. "We are as we stand."