As the January transfer window moves on, there appears to be more and more evidence that Tottenham Hotspur really are interested in Fulham's 19-year old striker Moussa Dembele. The latest reports suggest, however, that Fulham are driving a hard bargain. Tom Collomosse at the Standard writes that the west London club is willing to sell "Twossa" Dembele to Spurs (or to another club), but on the condition that Spurs then loan him back to Fulham for the rest of the season.
Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be much of an issue, and it's an understandable thing for Fulham to ask. Dembele has been one of the few bright spots in the season for Fulham, who are currently 19th in the 24-team Championship table, just four points above the drop. Dembele is the team's second highest scorer with nine league goals, and Fulham seem resigned to losing him eventually: his contract expires in the summer and Fulham will get very little compensation if he moves to a foreign club on a free. Fulham want to stay in the Championship, and Dembele could help them do that.
Ultimately it comes down to how important Spurs think Dembele could be for them this Spring. Fulham's asking price for Dembele is apparently £6m. If Fulham hold firm to their loan demands, and Spurs are looking for a player who can have an impact for them immediately, it could be a point of contention. If Spurs are looking for a future contributor, then loaning back to Fulham wouldn't necessarily be a big issue. Collomosse also notes that Dembele is being looked at by Monaco, Wolfsburg, Roma, and PSG, and that Spurs might consider sending another of their promising youth players to Craven Cottage to sweeten the deal.
The more I see of Dembele, the more I think he could be an excellent signing for Spurs. Not in the sense of him waltzing into the lineup immediately as Kane's understudy, but as a young player with lots of talent and a huge upside. £6m for "Twossa," even with a return loan, still feels like a pretty shrewd piece of business. I suspect, however, that this is a transfer that won't be decided until deadline day.