Tottenham Hotspur have helped uncover an incredible pre-deadline day transfer scam surrounding FC Twente striker Luc Castaignos that has been reported to Fifa, the world governing body.
Castaignos, a highly-rated Holland Under-21 international, was offered to Tottenham by a rogue group, who allegedly forged a mandate document for a potential sale of the player.
A Croatian negotiator contacted Tottenham directly, claiming to have the rights to arrange a transfer for Castaignos to England, but the proposed deal quickly unravelled.
Tottenham already know one of the agents who is affiliated with Castaignos, Rodger Linse, because he had worked on the deal to take midfielder Mousa Dembele to White Hart Lane in 2012.
There is also a good working relationship between Tottenham and FC Twente after the two clubs negotiated the transfer of Nacer Chadli over last summer.
Spurs contacted Twente to query the claims of the Croatian negotiator and left the matter in the hands of the Dutch club, who deny anyone was mandated to conduct a transfer.
It has since transpired the alleged false mandate document included a forged signature of Twente chairman Joop Munsterman.
A Twente spokesman said: “The club were informed about the situation by a contact in England. It is correct that the signature of the club chairman was forged and the matter is now in the hands of the Dutch federation and Fifa.”
Tottenham officials confirmed raising the issue with Twente, but were unaware of the scale of the attempted scam.
Twente approached the Dutch football employers’ organisation, FBO, to investigate the case and they have now referred it to the Dutch federation and Fifa after alerting clubs of the fake mandate.
They have also sent a letter to three agents, Domagoj Lisica, Karim el Atmani and Danny Budimir, threatening police action.
Budimir, who is based in the United States, immediately contacted FBO to explain his involvement.
He said: “I was approached with this mandate to try to help find a club for Luc Castaignos in the MLS.
"I have seen false mandates before, but never a fake mandate from the club. I’m happy to assist the Dutch federation and Fifa with any investigations.”
The other agents have not responded.
Serge Rossmeisl, CEO of FBO, is aware Tottenham were one of the clubs targeted. He said: “We have never seen a false mandate before. The first priority was to ensure it would not be used again and now we have left the matter with the Dutch federation and Fifa.”
Spurs believe they were contacted by the scammers because of reports the club still have plenty of money to spend from the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and want a new striker.
Head coach Tim Sherwood has insisted he is happy with his squad, but admitted Spurs may be attracted to the right piece of business.
Midfielders Etienne Capoue, who is a target of Napoli, and Lewis Holtby, who is interesting Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Fulham and Stoke, could both leave White Hart Lane before the transfer window shuts.
Tottenham entertain free-scoring Manchester City on Wednesday night and Sherwood has promised his team will not simply try to stifle the visitors, despite losing 6-0 at Eastlands in November.
Sherwood sees similarities between this season’s City team and the Blackburn side with whom he won the Premier League title in 1995 and believes Alvaro Negredo can be as influential as Alan Shearer, who scored 34 goals that season.
“If he can be anything like Alan in the Premier League, then he won’t do too badly,” said Sherwood. “They both score every type of goal, they hold the ball up well. He is probably the most similar to Shearer as there has been in recent years.
“Teams were scared of the Blackburn side I played in, they got everyone behind the ball and they were just waiting to get beaten.
"You can see it is the same with Manchester City. I have never been a believer in that. You can have a lot of people behind the ball and get hammered. You need to have your own attacking threats.
“Pellegrini has made a mockery of the ‘boring English 4-4-2’. People keep saying it’s old hat, but they’re running away with the league playing that, just as United did for many years.
"We never changed our system at Blackburn to accommodate anyone and Pellegrini isn’t doing that either.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches was accused of being drunk in his native Romania after video footage emerged of him having to be helped to walk by friends before falling over.
“He had a weekend off and now he has got to play well,” said Sherwood. “We won’t fine him. He wasn’t breaking any rules. For his own sake, you wish it didn’t happen. He was unsteady on his legs. It’s windy over there.”