Despite being lauded as one of the signings of the season and an example of transfer genius by Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, the press have already begun to speculate about Rafael van van der Vaart’s long term future at White Hart Lane.
The Dutchman has proved a talismanic figure scoring 14 goals in 34 appearances and been instrumental in Tottenham’s run to the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. Whilst he has been quieter of late, he is still a crucial figure as Tottenham rebuild their squad next season and look to qualify for Champions League football once more.
Redknapp’s method of playing van der Vaart has only allowed the side to field one striker for much of the season. With Tottenham clearly on the hunt for a World Class forward capable of delivering 20-plus goals a season, certain journalists have begun to speculate that such a striker would be incompatible with the former Real Madrid man and that his days at Spurs could be numbered. But this is a player with vast experience who has galvanised an otherwise youthful side. Could this speculation simply be attributed to idle journalists looking for headlines?
Admittedly English football is lacking in groundbreaking headlines at the time of writing. With the title all but won by Manchester United following their defeat of Chelsea, the only other shock on the pitch this weekend was Arsenal’s defeat by Stoke. With the Alejandro Faurlín saga at QPR seemingly settled and their promotion to the Premier League confirmed, it is only natural that the tabloids look for outlandish stories to fill their pages.
The speculation regarding van der Vaart might well have no substance to it at all, but in drawing a response and reaction from readers, whether positive or negative, the tabloids have succeeded in their writing. In today’s press environment heavily populated with tabloids and various forms of new media, it is those publications that go against the tide of public opinion and question the norm that draw more attention and, with it, more readers.
Unfortunately, however, speculation can have an adverse affect on players and clubs alike. Even the most professional individuals can have their heads turned by transfer speculation and become unsettled, whilst it can also be used as a bargaining tool by agents hoping to negotiate pay rises for their clients.
In this case, however, Tottenham fans will surely be hoping that it is a case of smoke without fire and that van der Vaart is merely another victim of headline generation. A class performer following his last-minute switch last summer, Spurs fans warmed quickly to the Dutchman. Whilst the side are not without other star players he would be a huge loss to Tottenham. Admittedly the side do need new star striker, but Redknapp would surely look to one that could play alongside the likes of van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric.
And what of the press speculators? With the summer transfer window fast approaching and many sides looking to overhaul their playing staff, expect to see the press take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to generate headlines as players across the country are repeatedly linked with new clubs. Whether there is any major news elsewhere in the World of football will surely define how active the speculators are and whether any of these rumours actually have any substance to them.
FootballFanCast.com WORLD Exclusive, Robbie Savage Face in a baby Scan