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Spurs fail in Van Nistelrooy chase as Hamburg close in

TOTTENHAM Hotspur were facing frustration last night after Ruud van Nistelrooy edged closer to a move to Hamburg.

Spurs had been hopeful that they would be able to sign the Real Madrid and Holland forward and meet his demands for an 18-month contract. But Hamburg stole a march by sending a doctor to Spain to carry out a preliminary medical.

Tottenham have been willing to offer him a pay-as-you-play deal, because of concerns about a knee injury. The 33-year-old is not scheduled to return for two weeks. His injury, coupled with being out of favour, has limited him to four appearances for Real this season but the Dutchman has been willing to take a pay cut, from £80,000 a week net, for regular football to try to secure a place in Holland's squad for the World Cup.

Stoke City and West Ham United had also made an approach to take him for this season, believing that Van Nistelrooy might come cheap as there is no transfer fee.

However, the deal has not been as straightforward because the Dutch striker is entitled to about £2m if he sees out his contract at Real, which ends this summer, and there are also reports that he is owed a similar sum as part of his signing-on fee.

© The Times, London