The former president of Brazilian club Internacional has revealed he held talks with Tottenham over a possible deal for cult striker Leandro Damiao.
Any Spurs fan that followed the club in the early part of the current decade will remember that name. Damiao was constantly linked with a move to north London when he was playing in his native Brazilian and for the national team.
It sometimes felt as if Damiao was a Tottenham player even though he never actually joined the club – that’s how often a deal was said to be close. But in the end, nothing materialised.
Speaking to the Athletic, Internacional’s club president between 2011 and 2014, Giovanni Luigi, revealed how talks did take place with Spurs over Damiao but chairman Daniel Levy was not willing to meet the player’s €20 million release clause.
“Yes, we did have talks with Tottenham,” Luigi said. “I spoke with their chairman twice on the phone. He was talking about an offer of €8 million or €9 million, which was much lower than what we had in mind.
“I had the feeling that they expected us to accept their offers just because it’s Brazil. Brazilian clubs are famous for being debt-ridden and in need of money. But Damiao was in the national team, flying high.
“He was a tall player, and strong, like European teams like. He could cause problems for defenders. I wasn’t going to let him go for that amount, so I didn’t proceed with it.”
Luigi went on to say that Spurs never made a formal offer for Damiao, adding: “Tottenham wanted to discuss it in person. I said I was open to that, but it didn’t happen. At no moment did we receive an offer in writing for him. Tottenham never put anything down on paper.
“At the end of the day, conversation only goes so far. It’s good to pick up the phone, or sit down at a table and talk, but there comes a moment at which the interested party has to put it in writing.”
Now 30, Damiao currently plays for Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale, for whom he scored against Tottenham’s London rivals Chelsea in a pre-season friendly. Talk about a legacy…