If you have the temerity to call Harry Redknapp a wheeler dealer these days, you’re most likely to be met with a seven lettered response, but the transfer deadline day signing of Van Der Vaart should prove to be something of a coup after seemingly stealing ahead of some of their most illustrious rivals in the Premiership.
Van Der Vaart had a funny old campaign last season, frozen out under manager Manuel Pellegrini up until around December, he then went on to become a mainstay in the side and one of their top performers as they just missed out on clinching the La Liga title by the narrowest of margins to bitter rivals Barcelona.
The truth of the matter is though, is that his face never seemed to fit around the Bernabeu, and as we all know, Real Madrid have a penchant for dismissing world class talent simply because they’re not marketable enough. Although Van Der Vaart can often be seen as an outspoken character, a global star he is not, and so despite delivering the goods on the pitch towards the end of last season, he was deemed surplus to requirements under the new managerial regime of the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho.
Rumours circulated months ago that Liverpool had been linked with a bid of £8m bid for Van Der Vaart, the exact same figure that it turned out that Spurs paid for him. But at the time it has to be said, this was unbelievable, that a player of such quality could be allowed to go so cheap, even by the madmen over at Real. It seemed Van Der Vaart knew he would be out on his earole’, and that he had chosen the Premiership as his chosen destination, but when it came down to the club, well it turns out that didn’t bother him so much.
Van Der Vaart had this to say on the matter back in late July: “I have heard of the interest from Liverpool and Chelsea – and that is very flattering. If either of them were willing to offer me first-team football, I will be honest that it would be very hard for me to not listen to what they had to say. I think I have the relationship with Madrid where they understand my position and would let me hold talks. I expect the majority of transfers to be concluded in the next two weeks, and if Chelsea or Liverpool wanted to talk with me I would at the very least listen to what they have to say. They are both giants, and if they could offer first-team football it may prove impossible to turn down. Real Madrid is the most prestigious club in the world and I am happy here and also in Spain, but I am at the age where I have to be playing first-team football.”
Nothing out of the ordinary right? Just a bit of casual praise for any would-be suitors, pretty standard as it goes. But by August 20th he’d also issued a plea of sorts to Man Utd stating “I could never play for another club in Spain and the truth is that if you are leaving Real Madrid, there is only one club you can join that is not a step down – and that’s Manchester United.”
So it seems Van Der Vaart was playing a very clever game, each of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd all require a creative midfielder or two, Arsenal it would appear on the face of things, have an abundance of talent in that area and Man City had just signed David Silva, so at the very least this was a extremely deliberate courting of the Premiership’s top clubs, but as yet no mention of Spurs.
Redknapp said on signing Van Der Vaart that: “I thought he was going to Bayern Munich for about £18m and suddenly he became an awful lot cheaper and the chairman came to me and said: ‘Look, he’s available for around about £8m. I felt we’d already got a good squad, it wasn’t a case of really being desperate to get anyone in. It was only when he rung me at about four o’clock and told me there was an opportunity here and did I want to do something? I said: ‘I don’t really want to spend your money but if you feel you want to have a go then, well, let’s push on and give it a crack and see if we can pull it off.”
This in itself is fine, although Real have since refuted the bizarre claim that Bayern Munich had made an £18m offer at any time since he completed his move to White Hart Lane. Harry has undoubtedly pulled a rabbit out of the hat so to speak, as Van Der Vaart is a fine creative talent and Spurs have pulled off a bargain, but barring preliminary negotiations with Liverpool all the way back in April, no other side, as far as we know at least, has made any sort of move for him.
To achieve this signing with less than an hour to go is obviously some pretty speedy work, but the attitude of ‘yeah he’s a triffic player, triffic, let’s get him in’ does show a lack of forward planning. As good a signing as Van Der Vaart is, and let’s make no bones about this here, he’s an absolute steal, it does not paper over the cracks that this transfer window has been a failure for Spurs and there are more pressing concerns than just adding another midfielder to their ranks, when a striker or a centre half would have been much more useful to the side.
In today’s current climate, the transfer market has become a lot more stilted in its movement and deadline day isn’t quite what it once was with concerns to breakneck speeded excitement, but Spurs’ move for Van Der Vaart was undoubtedly the deal of the day. He could quite comfortably walk into Man United’s side, and most definitely Liverpool’s too, but whether it was what was required to take Spurs to the next level, I remain doubtful, and it’ll be interesting to see how Spurs shoehorn the Holland international into their starting line-up, especially when it looks as if they have a settled and exciting midfield already.
Written By James McManus