TIM SHERWOOD was in London today talking over a £4 million move to Tottenham with the end of his long-running wrangle at Ewood Park almost in sight.

But there have been so many twists and turns in this saga that, until pen is put to paper, anything could happen.

Blackburn Rovers will not speculate on the deal, but it seems almost certain that, having given permission for the player to talk to Spurs, they have agreed a fee with their Premiership rivals.

Despite Aston Villa's failure to sign Juninho their manager John Gregory today ruled out a late bid for Sherwood, 30 this month - because of his age. Gregory said: "I am now looking for players with a longer shelf life. In people like Merson and Dublin I have the experience, I am looking for players I can build a long term future for the club."

It is always possible, however, that Gregory is deflecting attention away from a move in case it proved to be another embarrassing failure.

If Sherwood does accept Tottenham's offer it will be a blow to Rovers boss Brian Kidd who can ill-afford to lose such an influential midfield player.

Kidd inherited this situation which has been dragging on since early in the season.

"I don't know the background to it, I just find it sad," he said. "I haven't had any problems at all with Tim."

Meanwhile, Sebastien Perez's chances of clinching his dream move to Marseille are still alive, even though the Frenchman has returned to former club Bastia on extended loan. A big-money move remains on the cards this summer, as Perez explained after returning to Corsica on Monday.

"The problem was not between Marseille and Blackburn," he said from Bastia after beating the French transfer deadline by a matter of hours.

"In France clubs are allowed to have only 21 senior professionals, Marseille had that number so they could not take any more."

Now that he is playing in the French League again, Perez believes Marseille will monitor his situation and, when they make changes to their squad in summer, try to make room for him.

Rovers will want to recoup as much of the £3 million fee they paid for him and, whatever the outcome of his loan period, it is highly unlikely that Bastia would be able to pay so much for a player.

It would be a substantial amount even for giants Marseille.

But Rovers believe a permanent deal is feasible at the end of the season and that is one of the reasons they allowed the player to return home.

It happened very quickly after a lot of talking over the weekend and Perez said: "There was not much time and I am sorry I was not able to say goodbye to the other players and the supporters. "Can you do that for me please, because I was very happy with the football at Blackburn and the atmosphere.

"I missed a lot of games through injury and then there was the change of manager so it was difficult for me to get back in the team.

"And I wanted to go back to France because of my family, so I am happy to go to Bastia."

Ironically, Bastia meet Marseille this weekend but Perez has doubts over whether he will be able to play after just returning.

"The game after that will be away to Bordeaux and I should be okay for that one," he added.

Rovers Youth boss Bobby Downes is jetting off this week on a fact-finding mission to Australia as the club extend their search for young talent worldwide.

"I am going with a completely open mind," he said. "We have been stepping up our efforts to find the best local talent but we are determined to leave no stone unturned."

It is possible that Rovers could arrange a tie-up with a couple of Australian clubs depending on the situation Downes' finds when he gets there.

Fans are reminded that tickets will not be available at Villa Park on Saturday. Seats are on sale from the Ewood ticket office until Friday night, price £17 no concessions.

Dion Dublin is expected to return from injury for Villa against Rovers on Saturday.

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