By Duncan Castles
Tottenham have made an approach for Barcelona centre-back Marc Bartra of as the Premier League club look to reinforce their squad with a young central defender.
The Spain Under-21 star, who has loan offers to remain in La Liga from Valencia and Villarreal, is aware of Spurs' interest and open to a move to English football.
Any deal for the 22-year-old is also complicated by Barcelona's ongoing pursuit of a starting centre back, however.
The Spanish champions have seen cash offers for David Luiz and Daniel Agger rejected by Chelsea and Liverpool - with the Blues demanding €50 million for the Brazilian - but, should they be successful in brokering a deal for either, the Catalan giants would still prefer to loan Bartra out and assess his development over the course of the coming season rather than sell now.
They have also enquired over the availability of Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen, only to be told that the versatile Belgian is not for sale.
Barta, meanwhile, made 16 appearances for Barcelona last season and is needed there at least until their own new signing is made.
The sale of England international Steven Caulker to Cardiff City coupled with William Gallas's exit under freedom of contract has left Tottenham short of personnel in central defence.
Though Andre Villas-Boas and Franco Baldini, their recently appointed director of football, had negotiated a deal with Steaua Bucharest for Vlad Chiriches, the Romanian club's owner blocked the sale.
The pair also explored the possibility of signing Rolando from Porto, before pulling out of the move amidst concerns over the Portugal international's fitness and the €6m asking price. Villas-Boas's current strategy is to bring in a younger central defender with the potential to develop into a first choice.