Club president Giovanni Luigi took to Brazilian radio earlier in the week to confirm that while Tottenham had, indeed, expressed an interest in the striker the Porto Alegre side was feeling no pressure to do a deal.
“Internacional, fortunately, is in a position where we do not have the need to do business unless it is unusual for the club,” he said.
If anything, the Inter hierarchy are feeling irritated with Spurs, given both the timing and value of the bid.
The 2012 Campeonato Brasileiro is about to hit its midway point and Inter are currently fifth in the standings, a single point back of city rivals Grêmio and the final Copa Libertadores berth. The two sides will go head-to-head in a much-anticipated “Gre-Nal” derby on Sunday, and Luigi is adamant that he will be doing no transfer business until the match is over.
Inter have forbidden any of their players, including Damião, from speaking to the press ahead of the Grêmio showdown, and for Luigi the presence of Tottenham “businessmen,” as he says, lurking around ahead of a major derby is both irritating and ignorant.
Spurs’ valuation of the player has done little to cheer him. The London side have long been keen on Damião, who wears the number-nine jersey for Brazil, and since 2010 have made three bids between £12 million and £18 million. A fourth offer could be coming later this week or early next, although it isn’t expected to exceed £20 million.
Internacional have no interest in entertaining such figures, especially as playmaker Oscar was sold to Chelsea for £25 million just last month.
Damião, 23, is three years older than his former teammate and far more accomplished at club level. While Oscar moved to Stamford Bridge after just one season of top-flight football, Damião is midway through his third. He scored 38 goals in all competitions last season and has already bagged 20 this term.
To Inter, it would make no sense to sell Damião—their top asset—for less money than they received for Oscar. They’ll also be mindful that Sao Paulo starlet Lucas Moura recently completed a £35 million move to Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG are obviously capable of offering otherworldly sums, but Inter are unlikely to be drawn into a negotiation for Damião unless the bidding approaches £30 million. They have the player tied down until 2016—a contract that also includes a £43 million release clause.
Contacted by Brazilian outlet Globo on Tuesday, Damião’s father Natalino remarked that his son wasn’t angling for a move. “He is happy at Inter,” he said. “For now there is nothing.”
Damião, a tall, powerful forward, was part of the Internacional side that won the Copa Libertadores in 2010 and Recopa Sudamericana in 2011. He has been likened to former Sevilla marksman Luis Fabiano, albeit with more upside.
Should they miss out on Damião, Tottenham could well turn to Shakhtar Donetsk forward Willian Borges da Silva (Willian) in an effort to further strengthen their attack.
They have already made contact with the Ukrainian champions but are thought to be unwilling to meet the £20 million valuation for the 24-year-old.
In this instance Spurs are right to be put off with the asking price. Although a creative winger, Willian would be only a slight upgrade (if an upgrade at all) on Aaron Lennon and wouldn’t come close to displacing Gareth Bale from the starting XI. His slight frame wouldn’t do him any favours in English football, either.
Verdict: not a Premier League player.
Follow Jerrad Peters on Twitter @peterssoccer