Harry Redknapp has announced that so long as other clubs are willing to pay the “crazy” wages that players are demanding, Tottenham Hotspur will be unable to compete in the transfer market for the top or ‘in-demand’ players that are available.
Spurs have been relatively quiet in the market so far with only Brad Friedel being brought in on a free transfer, however speculation over the future of playmaker Luka Modric has dominated the back pages recently, and again, Redknapp has claimed that the wage packet on offer at Stamford Bridge will inevitably cause players heads to turn. The Spurs boss admitted that “it’s not easy when people come along and offer you double or triple your wages”, and he seems somewhat resigned to thinking that any approaches that the club makes for top players will almost certainly be blown out of the water by Tottenham’s competitors.
Redknapp has insisted that whilst funds are available for transfer fees, when it comes to player salaries, Spurs are unable to offer anything close to the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City. In an attempt to lighten the mood Redknapp joked, “we were interested in Sergio Aguero but he wanted £250,000 a week in wages. We were only £220,000 short.” Upon hearing this some Spurs fans will be wanting to laugh, however there seems to be a harsh reality behind Redknapp’s humour; that failure to compete in the transfer market is ultimately likely to entail failure to compete on the pitch with these clubs as well.
Spurs have often been praised for the reportedly low wage system in place at White Hart Lane, and rightly so. However, in order to attract the likes of Sergio Aguero, and in order to compete at the top end of the league, it seems Spurs must find a way to generate the kind of money these players are looking for. Both Levy and Redknapp know that shipping out the youth or ‘fringe’ players of the squad will not reduce their wage bill sufficiently enough, whereas the money they would receive for the likes of Modric or Bale, combined with their wages coming off the books, would almost certainly provide them with some financial strength in the market.
With Chelsea expected to return with an increased offer for Luka Modric, Redknapp remains adamant the midfielder will still be at Spurs come the start of the season. Should Modric be allowed to leave, the Spurs boss will be wary that others may seek their football elsewhere, and bringing in players on higher salaries may well cause others to seek higher salaries, if not at Tottenham then, again, elsewhere.
Spurs face a rather unenviable task of finding a balance between the players that they want and the salaries that they have to offer. Having missed out on the Olympic Stadium, Tottenham cannot generate the same kind of incomes at Manchester United or Arsenal, and without the kind of backing at Chelsea and Manchester City, Levy will be fully aware his club must aim to live within their means, especially with the financial fair play system set to come in 2014.
Redknapp remains optimistic that the club will bring in one or two players before the window closes at the end of the month. Spurs are believed to have submitted a £22m bid for Juan Mata on Friday, and the Valencia winger is said to have attracted the likes of both Arsenal and Liverpool as well. Spurs may well be drawn in to a bidding war and as things stand, will almost certainly be unable to match the salaries that their rivals will be prepared to offer.
The fact remains that so long as the clubs around Tottenham are willing to offer these “crazy” wages, Tottenham’s comparably ‘low’ wage system, though highly commendable, ultimately counts for nothing. If Spurs are wanting to sign the top-players, then they must offer something that other clubs cannot, and without Champions League football to boast, it is hardly surprising that they are struggling to do so.
For now, Spurs must hope to replicate their achievements of the 2009/10 campaign in which they did qualify for the Champions League, and without any real ‘big names’ or ‘top signings’ in the transfer windows. However, with Manchester City having improved significantly since then, and the signings that Dalglish has made this summer at Liverpool, Spurs will almost certainly be favourites to miss out on a top four finish again this year. Should they do so, the club risk losing more than just Luka Modric, but their brief reputation as a ‘top four’ side as well.