Real Madrid had an insider at Tottenham doing a lot of the necessary dirty work last summer. Luka Modric played a key role in forcing through his sale to Real Madrid, using all the modern tricks in the book to undermine Tottenham and Daniel Levy’s position, even if on paper they held a strong hand. This time around, Real Madrid are continuing to use similar tactics that has won over previous stars of the Premier League, proving that the Spanish giants are not prepared to learn from previous ventures.
But in honesty, who can really tell clubs like Real Madrid or Barcelona to keep their distance? It’s the Bayern Munich story on a Europe-wide scale. Whatever they want they eventually get. Tottenham and certain corners of the English football community – those who would unconditionally back the underdog – simply don’t have the power to forge a counter attack; at the very least the feeble defence barrier holds well enough for an extra 12 months. But the wider story here is that none of these clubs, especially those with the current standing of Tottenham (relative to Real Madrid), can do much to intimidate those who persistently come knocking.
These are underhanded tactics that will never truly be eradicated from football. Sure, they wind up Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United, and any other unfortunate English club whose star player pops up on La Liga clubs’ radar, but it’s become the norm of the transfer circus. And they simply won’t take no for an answer.
It was reported earlier in the month that Real Madrid had notified Tottenham that they would not launch a bid for Gareth Bale this summer, in an act that can only be described as a ‘gentleman’s agreement,’ yet one with devilish undertones. Are we really supposed to believe that? They’ll get what they want, even if they have to force Bale to push the transfer from his end.
On this occasion it’s slightly different. In the past, Cesc Fabregas wanted to return ‘home,’ Cristiano Ronaldo had apparently always dreamt of playing for Real Madrid, and Luka Modric became one of those players who simply couldn’t say no to the Spanish Giants. Our footballers in Britain, on the other hand, look up to clubs like Manchester United and hold them as the truest and highest point of the game. Ironically, United could arguably fall into that category of getting exactly what they want, too. But the significance here is that Bale’s British nationality may not force the kind of rise that the utterance of the words ‘Real Madrid’ would in European or South American players.
But in the grander scheme of things, that doesn’t really matter. Zinedine Zidane has been out talking up Gareth Bale as one of the best players in the world, topped only by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In Florentino Perez’s eyes, Bale was “born to play for Real Madrid.” It’s getting messy for Tottenham (again), but it’s something that simply can’t be escaped. There are no lessons to be learnt here. Madrid’s aim is the Champions League. They want to become the undisputed dominant force in Spanish football. They understand the importance of toppling the powers from Germany. If Tottenham are in the firing line, so what?
And Real Madrid will continue to chip away at Tottenham’s credibility in all this. Daniel Levy wants something in the region of £80 million? Well that’s not happening. Selling club’s generally don’t dictate how much a player goes for. The market and, in this case, Real Madrid, hold the upper hand. It’s all part of the process. Why spend that much on a player when he can be had for much, much less if the selling club have little choice in the matter? It creates the image of player power, but that’s not really the case. Just like Financial Fair Play, these tactics are there to be exploited in order to keep the rich at the top and the poor well away.
Even with his steely determination, something which should be admired, Daniel Levy is close to powerless to stop Madrid from getting what they want. Those defence shields may come up and the celebrations of victory in battle will arise, but they will be short lived. Clubs like Real Madrid always win the war, even if it means postponing their final and decisive assault by 12 months.
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