Tottenham sign Lewis Holtby from Schalke after bringing deal forward

• German was due to arrive on free transfer in summer
• Injury to Sandro had left Spurs short in midfield

Tottenham Hotspur have agreed a deal with Schalke for the immediate transfer of Lewis Holtby. The midfielder had agreed terms to join the London club in the summer at the end of his contract, however Tottenham were keen to bring the move forward in order to provide cover after the injury to Sandro.

André Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, agreed a pre-contract for Holtby to move to White Hart Lane on a free transfer. But Sandro, who has had knee surgery, will miss the rest of the season and Villas-Boas has been left short in midfield.

Holtby has made three appearance for the German national side and joined Schalke in 2009 from Alemannia Aachen. He was loaned out to Bochum and Mainz prior to making his breakthrough with the Gelsenkirchen club.

Tottenham were initially content to wait until the summer before welcoming the 22-year-old to their squad, but after the German club made it clear they were willing to let Holtby go this month, Spurs moved to secure his immediate transfer.

The London club had two offers rejected for the player, before Schalke accepted a bid of £1.25m over the weekend. It is understood Holtby had a medical at Tottenham two weeks ago before finalising his Bosman deal.

He has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract, but apparently wants to move to London from Germany at the weekend, ruling him out of Tottenham's games against Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion, which take place on Wednesday and Sunday respectively.

Holtby was born in Erkelenz to an English father, who was in the British Army, and a German mother. He had spells at Sparta Gerderath and Borussia Mönchengladbach before making his professional debut with the second division side Alemannia Aachen six years ago.

Holtby joined Schalke two years later and his performances there helped him earn youth caps with Germany at Under-19, Under-20, and Under-21 level. He could have played for England, but opted to represent his country of birth, making his senior debut against Azerbaijan in June 2011.

Holtby is a versatile midfielder whose favourite position is just behind a main striker. He can also operate deeper in midfield.

Speaking after agreeing to sign at the end of the season, Holtby said: "Tottenham are a top club and I'm fulfilling my dream. Negotiations with Schalke were initially advanced, but then I looked over it all carefully again. I have spoken to André Villas-Boas and I am confident in his plans."

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