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Dembele deal off? Talks break down between Spurs and Fulham

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Sky Sports understands that this pretty much sucks.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Breaking news on the transfer front. According to Sky sources, Tottenham Hotspur have apparently walked away from the negotiating table for Fulham's young striker Moussa Dembele.

Spurs were-slash-are reportedly very close to signing the 19-year old French striker who has 11 goals for Fulham this spring. He apparently had a medical at Tottenham yesterday and was interesting in making the move to North London for a fee of around £5m where he would serve as a backup striker for Harry Kane.

But Fulham have been playing hard-ball over a return loan for Dembele for the rest of the season. Fulham are near the relegation zone in the Championship and want to keep ahold of "Twossa" in order to bolster their chances of staying up.

Let's say for the sake of argument that these leaked reports are accurate. £5m is nothing to a club like Tottenham Hotspur, and Dembele's contract expires at the end of the season. Spurs could very likely get their guy at the end of the year on a free transfer but would end up paying a tribunal fee that could end up to be around what they're offering for Dembele now. A loan back to Fulham, while not ideal, probably shouldn't be a total deal breaker unless Spurs are adamant that Twossa is their guy (which flies in the face of Poche's comments about strikers up to this point).

On the other hand, while they're three points above the drop, Fulham have a good goal differential compared to the other teams near the drop zone and still have Ross McCormack, their leading scorer. They're likely to stay up even if they do sell Dembele, which makes the hang-up on a return loan a little bizarre. And if they hold firm and Dembele moves to the continent instead of to Spurs this summer, they'll get very little in compensation.

All this is to say there's a fair amount of brinksmanship going on, but I'm inclined to believe that Spurs "walking away" from the table is more a negotiation ploy than an indication that they're no longer interested in Dembele. It's close to deadline day, after all, and Daniel Levy drives a hard bargain. Even though the deal has apparently "broken down" a day before the window closes, that doesn't yet mean that it's over.

There's a lot of moving pieces in play at present, and it's also important to keep in mind that these are as of yet unverified sources. Nobody panic. There's still time to do a deal.