Newcastle United are set to increase their £10.5 million bid for Andros Townsend, in what should be a clash of notoriously frugal transfer titans. Daniel Levy vs Mike Ashley; the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
The London Evening Standard are one of a variety of sources claiming that the 24-year-old Tottenham winger is interested in moving to the Magpies and that a deal is imminent, despite interest from West Brom and Watford. Levy's asking price is said to be £14 million, despite Townsend only playing 64 Premier League minutes this season.
Never have these two dealt with each other in their eight-and-a-half years of simultaneous power. And there's a reason for that - Levy successfully demands eye-watering fees for Spurs players, whilst Ashley's tactic is to start with an insultingly low offer and gradually increase. It rarely works.
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In recent times, Levy has brought in £10 million for Sandro, £8 million for Jake Livermore, £8 million for Steven Caulker and recouped all he spent on flop Benjamin Stambouli. The current world-record transfer remains the £85 million that took Gareth Bale from White Hart Lane to Real Madrid.
Up in Newcastle, Ashley spent a measly £4.3 million on Yohan Cabaye and later sold him for £20 million. Demba Ba came in for free, Moussa Sissoko for £1.8 million and the genius of Hatem Ben Arfa was signed for just £5 million, with Ayoze Perez the latest bargain when Newcastle met his £1.7 million release clause. No wonder their eyes never met.
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The two honchos seem to have slipped from their peak of late. After avoiding relegation on the final day of last season, Ashley spent £50 million to make Newcastle the sixth biggest net spend in Europe. This January, £16.5 million has already gone on Jonjo Shelvey and Henri Saivet, with Saido Berahino lined up as a club-record signing. After years of waiting, Ashley is leaking money.
And Levy suffered big losses in the sales of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and Vlad Chiriches. Something unusual is in the air. So it's fitting that now is the time both sides finally share the same negotiating table, pressured by external factors; Newcastle are in serious danger of relegation and Townsend is desperate to leave to enhance his Euro 2016 chances.
The England international is reportedly impressed by a personalised fitness plan already drawn up by backroom staff, edging the North East side ahead of those closer to London. So, in this battle of penny-pinchers, who will win and who will suffer a huge ego blow?
I personally think this deal will drag on to the final day of the transfer window, with both owners resorting to natural habits. Newcastle will eventually get their man permanently, with Levy not budging on a loan request. But Ashley will have to fork out an eight-figure sum for Townsend.
In that situation, do Newcastle or Tottenham come out of this best? Let us know in the comment section below.