Tottenham, Van Der Vaart And The Art Of Brinksmanship

The end of summer has been officially punctuated, at least in a footballing sense – although the weather here is also doing it’s bit.

Transfer deadline day is always a pretty maddening phenomenon, a fact that any one of the thousands of people that sat like lemons, glued intently to one (or more) of the various ‘live feeds’ that were in operation yesterday will attest to.

The feeds provided a constant, chugging stream of updates, conjecture and flagrant horsesh*t but it wasn’t until we approached close of play that we attentive serfs were treated to a genuine piece of eleventh-hour transfer mayhem.

With just four minutes’ worth of sand left in the Boggle timer, the news broke that Tottenham were in advanced talks with a European superstar, and with just two minutes’ worth of sand left that superstar was revealed to be non other than Real Madrid midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart – although it is still unclear as to whether or not the deal has actually gone through.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp

It would appear that Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is no wiser than the rest of us worthless proles as to whether his impressive coup will be rubber-stamped by the Premier League, telling Sky Sports News last night;

“It’s still dragging on. We are just waiting to see whether it’s all gone through. We are waiting for clearance. The chairman [Daniel Levy] and the secretary [Darren Eales] are dealing with it, there is nothing more I can do now.”

Redknapp also revealed that Van der Vaart was due to move to German champions Bayern Munich on Monday for more than double the fee that Spurs have reportedly agreed with Real, illustrating why many clubs leave it so late in their pursuit for last-ditch acquisitions;

“I think he was going to Bayern [on Monday] for about £18 million, but suddenly he became an awful lot cheaper. He is available now for about £8 million.

It is a last minute job. It may happen and I hope we can get it done. When I came in [yesterday] morning it certainly wasn’t something I was looking to do.

The chairman rang me at 4 o’clock to say it was possible. He’s a top footballer and, as I say, yesterday he was due to be going to Bayern for £18 million, so if the chairman pulls it off it is a great piece of business.”

A 45% fall in his asking price over the space of 24 hours also illustrates just how keen the Spanish giants were to get shot of the Dutch international, who has (I think it’s fair to say) failed to flourish fully at the Bernabeu.

Van der Vaart in action for Real Madrid
Van der Vaart in action for Real Madrid

Van der Vaart (a player who, in hindsight, clearly relishes the role of being the big fish in the relatively small pond) has shown intermittent flashes of his much-vaunted talent during a two year stint at Real Madrid without being able to convincingly hold down a first-team place, but international standard playmakers don’t necessarily become bog-standard cloggers overnight.

A restoral to regular first-string proceedings at pastures new would more than likely see the 27-year-old recapture the kind of match-winning form he displayed at Hamburg not so long ago, form that eventually earned him his move to Los Blancos during the summer of 2008 – which is a fact not lost on Redknapp;

“For that sort of money, he is a top player and he will improve us for sure. We have made the effort, whether we can pull it off or not we will have to see.

He is a great passer of the ball, he is a top footballer. He will join in here and play the way we like to play, he would be a big plus for us.”

Indeed. I, for one, cannot wait to see how Van der Vaart would potentially fare in the Premier League. A player with his technique, skill and penchant for audacious 30-yard belters would only serve to bolster the impartial (and partial for that matter) viewers’ experience.

On behalf of all people with an appreciation for the art of buying world-class footballers on the ridiculously cheap, a doff of my cap must go to Harry. It looks like the wily old wheeler dealer may have done it again.

As is, Spurs are still waiting for confirmation from the relevant authorities that their preliminary papers went through on time and, at the time of writing, neither club has issued a statement proclaiming anything which-way-or-the-other – leaving all interested onlookers in a state of confused flux.

If their official interest was logged before the 1800 BST deadline, then Tottenham would be afforded an extended period of grace to finalise the £8 million deal with Real and with the player himself. If not, the deal becomes dead in the water and will be consigned to the long list of ‘nearlys’ that the club have racked up over the last few years.

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