On 21 February 2013, Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas publicly denounced the idea that Gareth Bale's individual brilliance made his side a one-man team.
Five months on, after allegedly rejecting a bid north of £80m from Real Madrid for the 24-year-old Welshman, it appears that the club are implicitly admitting that they need Bale to succeed.
Meanwhile on Merseyside, Liverpool are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto a striker who has tarnished the name of one of the world's most famous clubs.
Luis Suarez's myriad of misdemeanours have been negated by his wonderful ability on the field of play. Manager Brendan Rodgers has rejected an unconventional £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal for Suarez, who scored 30 goals in 44 appearances for Liverpool last season.
His belligerent public statements suggest he has no intention of allowing the Uruguayan to leave Anfield.
It is one thing to make every effort to hold on to your best players, but it is something else to eschew astronomical bids when the players in question want to leave.
Suarez has consistently expressed his desire to play Champions League football, ideally not in England, while Bale is reportedly unhappy at chairman Daniel Levy's refusal to allow him to speak to Madrid. Both players have the potential to cause unrest, yet are considered indispensable.
What this suggests is that both clubs are afraid of a future without their talismen. Bale and Suarez have the ability to convert defeats into draws and draws into wins, talents seemingly beyond Emmanuel Adebayor and Fabio Borini.
Suarez scored 32.4% of Liverpool's Premier League goals last season with 23, the most since Fernando Torres' 35.8% back in the 2007-08 season, while Bale contributed 21 of Tottenham's 66 goals, (31.8%). They were the difference between achievement and mediocrity.
At Chelsea, Jose Mourinho has warned John Terry and Frank Lampard that their stalwart status does not guarantee them a starting berth, while reminding creative assets such as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard that they will need to fulfil their defensive duties to stay in the team. In other words, the team will be built around nobody.
Unfortunately, Rodgers is fully aware that his intention to steer Liverpool to Champions League football in 2014 is largely reliant on Suarez's goals, assists and reputation. Villas-Boas knows that Bale is the only world-class player in his side.
It is for this reason that they are defying all logic by rejecting the chance to accept a substantial amount of money for their assets – money which they could reinvest across all areas of the playing squad.
United let Cristiano Ronaldo go to Madrid with a melancholy wave but a determination that his loss would not destabilise the club. They were proved right.
But Liverpool and Tottenham continue to cling on to their starlets with increasing desperation, sending out the message that they cannot cope without them. Not a one-man team? It's time to prove it.
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