Tottenham Hotspur last night moved close to a deal to sign the Valencia striker Roberto Soldado. The Valencia president, Amadeo Salvo, admitted that the London club are "not far" from meeting the €30m (£26m) asking price which matches Soldado's official buy-out clause. Valencia would accept that figure as an agreement rather than an imposition, saving Spurs from having to pay tax on the fee.
Tottenham's director of football, Franco Baldini, travelled to Valencia on Monday morning, where he was met by Soldado's agent Alberto Toldrá. He then held meetings with Salvo in the afternoon, during which Spurs are understood to have improved their original bid of €24m.
The 28-year-old, who had previously admitted he would like to play in the Premier League and has been on the verge of leaving Valencia before, notably to Marseilles, has agreed terms in principle. He would earn around £3m a year.
On Monday morning the Valencia manager Miroslav Djukic had said: "I think Roberto is going to stay with us, although you can't rule anything out. I don't think anyone will pay the buy-out clause.
"From the start we've said that Soldado isn't for sale and that the only way he could go is that someone comes in, pays the clause and the player accepts to go."
But Baldini's visit puts a different complexion on the situation. Spurs will resist paying €30m and their chairman, Daniel Levy, has a reputation as a tough negotiator, prepared for talks to become drawn out in pursuit of the right price, while Valencia's financial crisis means that they have to sell. Soldado would follow David Silva, Juan Mata and David Villa in leaving the club.
If Spurs meet the buy-out clause, Valencia will be able to present the transfer as something that they were unable to prevent. Even if Spurs do not meet the official €30m valuation, the Spanish club believe that a deal is virtually inevitable now.
Sources in Spain suggest that there has been interest from Liverpool, too, but that only Spurs have made a formal offer. Valencia have a board meeting on Tuesday, at which they could officially approve the transfer if an agreement is reached.
"There has been contact during which Valencia have communicated [to Spurs] that we want the €30m," Salvo said. "Tottenham's mission is to get the player at the best possible price and Valencia's [mission] is to get those €30m.
"There's not much margin [for negotiation] now. For the deal to be closed, two things have to happen: for the lad to want to go and for the price that Valencia demand to be met. Then the board would study it."
Soldado began his career at Real Madrid and has scored 82 goals in 141 games for Valencia, having hit over 17 league goals a season for each of the last three years. He is a Spain international, with six goals in 11 appearances. But, although he was included in the squad for the Confederations Cup, he is by no means guaranteed a place at next summer's World Cup.
Soldado would become Tottenham's second major summer signing after the Brazil midfielder Paulinho. It would also be significant for them to hold on to Gareth Bale. "The manager has come out and said he's staying and that's great news," the defender Michael Dawson told Sky Sports News. "To do what Gaz did last year was sensational – some of the goals he scored and the points he won for us."