Tottenham believe they are leading the race to sign Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin despite interest from Chelsea and Arsenal, reports The Evening Standard.
Mauricio Pochettino tried and failed to bring the France international to White Hart Lane last summer, but is confident of sealing the transfer this time around.
The Argentinian is ready to offer Southampton Andros Townsend and Benjamin Stambouli to tempt Southampton into a sale, but they must also convince Schneiderlin to reject a club in the Champions League for one that is not.
Chelsea may not be a problem. Jose Mourinho sees Schneiderlin as a backup target should he miss out of Atletico Madrid's Koke and Juventus star Paul Pogba.
Similarly, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reevaluating his interest in the 25-year-old as Francis Coquelin continues to impress in the current Gunners squad.
Champions League dream
But Schneiderlin has already declared his wish to join a team in the Champions League and, barring a massive turnaround in the Premier League table, Tottenham will not qualify for next season's competition.
He admitted last year: "For my progress and my visibility, it would be better to play for a club who play in the Champions League.
"I know there is a lot of speculation, but I still have three years on my contract, it does not depend on me. We'll see in the coming weeks."
He reiterated that desire last month, telling reporters: “I no longer want to be in front of my TV every Tuesday and Wednesday
"In August, I wanted to progress my career but the club had let too many players go to sell me.
"Since then, I have had talks with the directors and I want to play at a higher level. It is important, at 25-years-old, to finally play in the Champions League.
Pochettino's advantage lies in his relationship with the player. He helped to bring Schneiderlin through to the first team at St Mary's turning him into a World Cup player with France.
They also believe that the offer of both Townsend and Stambouli will convince Southampton to demand significantly less than the £20m they are after.
Tottenham certainly have a squad capable of breaking into the top four but to that will require one of Manchester City, United, Chelsea or Arsenal dropping out.
All four have significantly more spending power, in part, ironically, because of their involvement in the Champions League (Establishment), and can trounce Tottenham when it comes to transfer offers.
Tottenham may be able to convince Southampton to accept a player-swap deal, but they may not be able to convince Schneiderlin to join a project that seems destined to fall short.
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