Redknapp strenuously denied any such suggestion but it is understood that Portsmouth are unhappy with his public courting of Defoe, with whom he hopes to be reunited as Tottenham look to rescue their league campaign by signing a top-class striker. He also admitted that were he in the position of Adams, who has watched Defoe forge a fruitful forward partnership with Peter Crouch, he would not let the 26-year-old leave.
Although he has been a successful mentor to Defoe, Redknapp struck a pessimistic tone on the chances of an agreement being reached. 'It is difficult to talk about Jermain when he is not my player,' he said. 'It will cause a bigger problem if I keep talking about him. I got the message that Portsmouth would be willing to sell him. We had a list of strikers and he was on the list. I'd be surprised if the deal gets done as the clubs are a fair way apart on the price.'
Portsmouth are holding out for a fee of £15 million for Defoe, though it is believed Tottenham are unwilling to go higher than £13.5 million. Then there is the question of how determined Adams and Peter Storrie, his chief executive, are to keep the striker. Redknapp acknowledged: 'If I was Tony Adams I would not sell him. Crouch and Defoe are a terrific partnership and that is why I bought them to play together when I was at Portsmouth. Whether I was in a relegation battle or not, I would not sell Defoe.'
It is a complicated and curious situation, because had Defoe not been sold by Spurs, precipitating a crisis up front that contributed to the club's worst league start for a century and the sacking of Juande Ramos, Redknapp would not be ensconced as manager. Secondly, a key reason behind Redknapp's appointment was to simplify Tottenham's unwieldy system of brokering transfers, in which former director of football Damien Comolli played a controversial role – and yet the club are still being dragged deeper into an unpleasant wrangle.
Redknapp said he simply identified the players he wanted and left his chairman, Daniel Levy, to negotiate the fees, but conceded that it hardly represented good business for Tottenham to be trying to buy Defoe back for up to £6 million more than they sold him for.
Appiah yesterday trained with Tottenham for the first time. The 28-year-old former Juventus player, without a club since terminating his contract with Fenerbahce last August, has also been linked with Arsenal and West Ham.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth midfielder Papa Bouba Diop has been ruled out for three months with strained ligaments in his right knee.