Tottenham turn down €10m Napoli bid for Étienne Capoue

• Spurs want €14m for out-of-favour midfielder
• Lewis Holtby linked with loan move to Fulham

Napoli have offered €10m (£8.25m) for Étienne Capoue but Tottenham Hotspur are holding out for €14m (£11.5m), while another of the London club's midfielders, Lewis Holtby, has emerged as a target for Fulham.

Capoue, the France international, has slipped to the bottom of the pecking order under Tim Sherwood and is open to a transfer to help his hopes of World Cup selection. Napoli, managed by Rafael Benítez, initially attempted to set up a loan for Capoue but Tottenham's preference is for a permanent deal. The Serie A club have returned with a bid and Capoue's agent, Mino Raiola, has been in London to negotiate with Spurs.

Capoue only moved to White Hart Lane from Toulouse last August for a fee that could rise to £11m but his season has been stop-start. He missed two months with an ankle injury that he suffered at Arsenal on 1 September, while his fortunes have wavered since Sherwood took over as the manager from André Villas-Boas and looked to favour Nabil Bentaleb, the France youth midfielder.

Benítez is eager to add balance to his Napoli team with the signing of a defensive midfielder and he has also tracked the Brazilian Ralf, of Corinthians. But Italian law places limits on the number of non-EU players that can be signed and, with Napoli poised to acquire the Brazilian defender, Henrique, from Palmeiras, they will not be able to bring in Ralf as well. Capoue is now the No1 target.

Holtby, the bargain £1.5m signing from Schalke in January 2013, has come to find himself in a similar situation to Capoue at Spurs, although he is ahead of him in Sherwood's reckoning., The German is very popular among his team-mates and has impressed them with his touch and attitude in training.

A move to Fulham, possibly on loan, would appeal on several levels as he would stand to play regularly for a team that tries to play decent football and he would not have to move from London. Sherwood has said, with regard to Capoue and Holtby, "if the opportunity is right, then we will let the player move".


David Hytner

The GuardianTramp

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