Spurs supporters have had a somewhat turbulent summer so far. At times, fans seem to have been left with more questions than answers as the Andre Villas-Boas led revolution appeared to have come to a grinding halt in the transfer window. The recent sale of Luka Modric to Real Madrid looks set to catalyze a dramatic, late splurge of cash- but there has been one element of the Croatian’s deal to Los Merengues that has left some scratching their heads.
Modric’s transfer saga became something of a bludgeoning affair for Spurs supremo Daniel Levy and co this summer. There was always a simmering realisation that the club was in all likeliness, resigned to losing the services of the talented Croatian. Quite how this was set to play out, however, was a different story.
Levy had set his stall out last season with the knocking back of a quite staggering £40million offer from Chelsea on deadline day. And to some extent, that figure seemed to affect the rules of engagement this time round. Some reports suggest that the now infamous offer from Stamford Bridge was in fact £30million in cash and the £10million-rated central-defender, Alex. Harry Redknapp said at the time: ‘”The chairman stood firm. I think £40m was apparently offered.” Redknapp, however, has said many things from the window of his Range Rover; his word should hardly be taken as gospel.
But whether it was or wasn’t a purely cash deal, the figure of £40million became something of a watermark over the Luka Modric transfer and this seemed to become a real problem for Levy. The Essex-born businessman seemed desperate to hold out for that marquee figure, but the transfer window can be a cruel mistress and his hand was eventually forced. There is no shame in selling at a lower price, either.
Many like to point to the fact Modric was tied to a long-term contract at the club, but that doesn’t paint the entire picture. Paris Saint Germain’s retraction of a reported £40million bid left Real Madrid as the only, seriously interested party and they knew Spurs had to sell. Yes, theoretically he could have stayed, but Modric’s time was up at White Hart Lane. Having already spat his dummy out by not going on Spurs’ pre-season tour to the United States, there was a real risk of him causing dressing room disharmony- something the new manager and the new set-up simply did not need.
The club did not need a season with a player who desperately did not want to be there and even though it’s impossible to tell how the White Hart Lane faithful would react, he certainly left a proportion of the Tottenham support upset with his behaviour. Modric getting booed would have been hugely disheartening for the team, whatever way you look at it.
It wasn’t ideal but it’s difficult to buy into this notion that Levy has been ‘mugged off,’ somewhere in this deal. Last season, he did what was right for the club. Modric arguably owed the club another year, the chairman didn’t want to sell to a Premier League rival and it ultimately paid dividends. The facts are, Tottenham finished fourth and Chelsea sixth. Transfers are a highly reactive process and Spurs did well to get what they did.
The most recent reports suggest that Tottenham will receive an initial €30million up front and another €8million in performance-related add-ons. At the current exchange rate, that’s about £23.8million up front, potentially rising to £30million (there or there abouts). But that’s not all Tottenham seemed to get out of the deal.
Curiously, the club’s official announcement on the transfer denoted a “partnership agreement” had been reached with Real Madrid, alongside Modric’s transfer. Another Levy masterstroke? Or an act of saving face?
The official line from the club was :
The partnership agreement will see the two Clubs working together in respect of players, coaching, best practices and commercial relationships.
At first glance, the most glaringly concerning assumption you can make from that, is that Madrid will end up getting first-dibs on Gareth Bale, should he depart from N17. But it’s all very well reading in between the lines. Support for the chairman has sometimes been perhaps too unnerving, but Levy is no fool and he wouldn’t agree to anything unless it was overwhelmingly beneficial to the club. In a business sense anyway.
The latest line out of this is that Real Madrid will agree to play two exhibition games against Spurs. If we firstly go with the global brand shtick that plays such a prominent part in football, it is doing the club no harm whatsoever playing against one of the biggest clubs in the world. There are already whispers that Spurs v Madrid tie at White Hart Lane could offer a glorious testimonial for the recently retired Ledley King. No one is going to argue with that. Both friendlies would be highly lucrative for the club.
The commercial opportunities that could arise out of this may also be beneficial to Spurs. It’s difficult at this moment to pinpoint exactly how the club may come into fiscal benefits from the deal, but Real Madrid are one of the biggest brands in football. Any links to the marketing juggernaut that is Santiago Bernabeu based club, surely can’t harm Spurs in their quest to find a lucrative naming rights partner for their new stadium. They need all the help they can get.
A sporting connection certainly isn’t going to harm the club either. Spurs are hardly in direct competition with Madrid for European glory and whilst many begrudge the notion of loaning a player at a club like Spurs, it’s a little bit different when you’re dealing with Real Madrid. The club has been mooted to get first refusal on certain players and loan deals. Considering they recently allowed a player of the quality of Nuri Sahin to temporarily seek pastures new at Liverpool, Spurs could do well out of Madrid in the coming seasons.
But also the coaching element of the deal can be of huge benefit to Tottenham. If the club are able to send some of their youth products off to Madrid for a coaching camp or even a longer, more competitive spell, then that is only going to benefit the club. We’ve seen on an international level the benefits of Spanish players immersing themselves in a different league. If Tottenham can get their kids the experience of playing in some Madrid based set-up, it could hugely enhance their development.
We will have to wait and see to see how this deal really plays out for Spurs in the long run, but while Daniel Levy has come in for some stick recently, he’s played the best hand he possibly could for Spurs here. It remains to been seen however whether this deal really will be impactful for the club or whether it is simply saving face.
How do you view Spurs’ shiny new Madrid based agreement? Can it benefit or the club or are you not reading much into it? Let me know what you think on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tweet me your views.