Gareth Bale’s protracted move to Real Madrid may be tiresome, but for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, it is part of a much bigger plan.
The saga has been ongoing since the end of last season, but Spurs are happy to let the clock tick down towards the end of the transfer window at 11pm on Monday night.
Levy is happy to make Madrid wait, having grown unhappy with Real’s courting of the Welshman. Number 11 shirts with ‘Bale’ on the back were prematurely available to buy from the official Madrid shop, while a section of the Bernabeu has been closed off to make way for the stage which Bale is to be unveiled on.
If that is not Madrid counting their chickens before they are hatched, I don’t know what is.
However, Tottenham’s stalling is not merely out of spite. Rather, Arsenal have been told they can sign their Madrid targets once the Spaniards have secured Bale’s signature. The Gunners have missed Friday’s 5pm deadline that would have allowed any new signings to play in the weekend’s north London derby, but ahead of the race for fourth place, Levy has moved to make sure Arsene Wenger will be hard pushed to finalise any deals before the end of the transfer window.
Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria have all been linked with moves to the Emirates, but while Bale’s deal could still fall through, Madrid are refusing to give way. Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted Bale’s transfer will only go through on Tottenham’s terms, but the club have pulled off a masterstroke when it comes to the politics of football in north London.
Spurs should, in theory, have been the ones who suffered this summer losing their best player. But while Arsenal fans have endured the most uneventful of transfer windows, a little further up the Seven Sisters road, their closest rivals have signed Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches and are close to completing a deal for Ajax’s Christian Eriksen.
The general consensus at White Hart Lane is that Spurs may have lost their prize pig, but the squad is all the stronger for it.
The blame for Arsenal’s quiet summer is not entirely Arsene Wenger’s, though he will take the most flack for it. Arsenal lack what Tottenham proudly possess: a chairman who has business in his blood. Levy has rectified the mistakes of last season, where Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart were sold before finding adequate replacements.
Tottenham are holding all the cards, and there is nothing either Arsenal or Real Madrid can do but play a seemingly interminable waiting game.
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