Tottenham’s summer is taking on a familiar look yet again. From the seeds of optimism have been born a state of disarray, as the vultures begin to circle around the Premier League club’s star assets. We have been here before, with the memories of Berbatov and Modric a painful reminder of what could be about to come.
What makes this ruthless approach so difficult to swallow is the fact this year Spurs are in conflict with a club recognised as a ‘partner’. So this begs the question: what have Spurs gained from 12 months in partnership with Real Madrid?
Subsequent to the protracted Modric saga last summer the club released the following statement on the clubs website:
“The club can announce that it has signed a partnership agreement with Real Madrid FC and reached an agreement for the transfer of Luka Modric, subject to medical, to the Spanish club.
“The partnership agreement will see the two clubs working together in respect to players, coaching, best practices and commercial relationships.”
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At the time I counted myself amongst a few who saw this as a tactical masterstroke by Daniel Levy. Madrid clearly didn’t have the money to up their bid for Modric, so why not try to extort some value out of the giants in another way? A money spinning friendly, an influx of loan players, opportunities for Spurs’ prospects to experience playing in Spain. This was only going to be a good thing right?
How naïve I was. The 12-month partnership with Madrid has spiralled into a PR disaster for the North London club.
Were Spurs finally signing on to become an official Madrid feeder club or were the club actually going to gain something? The deal itself mentioned sharing ‘best practice’, a general term granted, but my interpretation is in respect to how both clubs conduct themselves in all day-to-day activities. It is natural for big clubs to want the best players, I have no qualms with Madrid bidding for Bale at all, the problem comes from the way in which their approaches play out.
We have seen just this past week a long line of stars wheeled out as part of a propaganda offensive aimed at destabilizing Bale at Spurs, and to really put the dagger in Ancelotti is now in on the act as well. It isn’t the business itself that is the joke, it is the way Madrid are ruthlessly and unashamedly tapping up a player who is under contract at an apparent club ally
Am I being a little hypocrital? You only have to look back to the infamous Redknapp car window exchanges to realise Spurs have been at it as well previously. The difference for me is that Redknapp’s rants about other players always seemed to be part of a personal PR crusade, and often sought to hinder Spurs’ transfer activity. Whereas Madrid’s behaviour is different, a somewhat more cold and meticulous strategy that is currently making Spurs look totally foolish.
The issue extends further for me, and I think the Bale deal only just scratches the surface here. I assumed that the ‘commercial’ part of the relationship was the part Levy himself would have salivated over most readily. The most obvious joint commercial venture would have likely come to fruition in pre-season, perhaps a tour together, or even a one off friendly to fill the coffers. I was even then imagining what sort of ridiculous ticket price Levy was willing to place on a pre-season friendly. Sadly none of this would matter, the Castilians clearly preferred a trip to Bournemouth ahead of high profile encounter with the ‘lilywhites’.
Many envisaged the player aspect of the deal as being the most likely to bear any obvious fruit. A player exchange maybe with a collection of our stars getting the opportunity to play for Castilia in the Spanish League, something which would represent a step up from a lower league loan in England. Even Spanish players coming here to enjoy some experience in the much improved Academy leagues. To this day I don’t think I could name a single youth team player going either way as part of the deal.
When Spurs narrowly missed out on Joao Moutinho it would have been the perfect time to utilise this budding new relationship and take in a Madrid player on loan, Nuri Sahin perhaps? Instead the Turkish midfielder went on a short loan to Liverpool where he was largely surplus to their requirements. Even this summer a move for Jese Rodriguez never appeared to materialise in any way, when clearly the player cannot get game time at Madrid. Even if the deal were not permanent a loan could still have suited the North London club as they look to bolster their attacking options.
Maybe Levy was trying pull the wool over the eyes of the naïve few that tried to draw some kind of positive out of the Modric debacle. A way of cushioning the blow to those, like myself, that believed Spurs had been pillaged and mistreated by a larger club. Instead all the deal has done is exacerbated this image of Spurs as a second tier club on the European stage. Weak and ready to be taken advantage of, this deal just highlights how helpless Spurs are in protecting their prized assets.
Did Spurs really gain anything from a club partnership?
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