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Gareth Bale put Spurs under ‘intense’ pressure, but other Premier League stars aren’t getting their way

Sep 6, 2013, 11:12 AM EDT

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

This morning Tottenham Hotspur manger Andre Villas-Boas has revealed some of the things that went on behind the scenes at Spurs all summer.

And it wasn’t that pretty.

Despite wishing his former star player Gareth Bale all the best as he swapped Tottenham for Real Madrid in a record breaking transfer last weekend, AVB has suggested that the 24-year-old Welsh international put the London club under intense pressure to make his dream move a reality.

“The pressure we were subjected to by the player has been intense,” Villas-Boas said to the media after attending a coaching summit at UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland. “The influence of Real Madrid has been very big and you get to a point where you have to consider if it’s feasible not to accept an offer and whether you can press on with a player in that state of mind.”

(MORE: Gareth Bale discusses “very stressful” transfer saga)

But despite the pressure Bale piled on Tottenham to get the deal done, AVB accepted that Real Madrid’s new attacker ultimately had the right to decide his future.

“Obviously, we should be happy with the transfer fee that was paid,” Villas-Boas said. “Players want to win championships and I believe that with Gareth that is within reach. At the end of the day, it’s up to a player to decide if he wants to stay or wants to go.”

The Portuguese manager is right, Bale does have a choice.

Yet this summer has seen the choice of the player in a potential move become more and more complicated, compared to the past. We won’t take this ‘player power struggle’ all the way back to the famous Jean-Marc Bosman ruling back in 1995 — a landmark victory for players as they were given the power to decide which club they would sign for when a contract ended with their current side — but with the transfer saga’s of Bale, Luis Suárez and Wayne Rooney dominating the summer, the players have been put in their place.

(MORE: Liverpool’s American owner says Luis Suárez is not for sale, Uruguayan wants out)

Back in ’95 the Bosman ruling allowed players to move freely after their contract had ended, but Bale, Suárez and Rooney all wanted early exits despite being under contract at Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United respectively. Over the past few years the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka all wanted moves away from their clubs whilst under contract and they got their wish.

However the summer of 2013 marked a period when the clubs fought back. They were sick and tired of being dictated to by players.

Manchester United decided they wanted Rooney to stay and Liverpool likewise with Suárez. And it’s not just in England, look over to the Bundesliga in Germany where Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski demanded a move for Bayern Munich…. only for Dortmund to block the move. That stance cost Dortmund a transfer fee as Lewandowski can leave for nothing next May.

In the end Gareth Bale got his way. But the clubs are fighting back.

  1. dfstell - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Isn’t one difference that Bale left the EPL? If United could have sold Rooney to PSG or Madrid or Barca or Bayern for a reasonable fee, they probably would have done so. Ditto for Suarez. I think the issue was that none of those non-English clubs really pursued either player. United just didn’t want to sell Rooney to Chelsea given that Chelsea is one of their major competitors for the title AND striker is the main place where Chelsea is weak. Ditto for Liverpool…..they don’t want to sell to Arsenal when they probably viewed Arsenal as the Top 4 club mostly likely to drop and allow Liverpool to get back into the Top 4. Same thing with Dortmund and Lewandowski.

    Of the transfer you mention that went through, the only one who stayed in the same league was RVP and you see how that turned out: It neutered Arsenal and pushed United to the title.

    It just doesn’t make much sense for these clubs to sell within the league if they can possibly avoid it.

    • mdac1012 - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      I agree, the article completely ignores the main reason “other Premeier League starts aren’t getting their way.” Namely that the main suitors for Suarez and Rooney as well as Lew, were the main competitors of the teams those players were already on. If Real Madrid came in heavy for Suarez or PSG for Rooney, they would have most likely been moved.

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      The whole point of the piece is to say that Bale got what he wanted…. but other players didn’t.

      I think that no matter what happens the shift in power from the players to the clubs will start to become more and more prevalent in the upcoming years.

      A few seasons ago that wasn’t the case, players like Fabregas held Arsenal to ransom and literally refused to play and people he got his move in the end. That didn’t work for Suarez and Rooney this summer.

      I hear what you’re saying about not selling to direct competitors… but if you are Manchester United, why would you say Wayne Rooney to Barcelona or Real Madrid?

      Don’t they want to win the Champions League? Aren’t Real and Barca huge rivals for that title?

      If a player is under contract to a certain team, they should show some loyalty. Plus the players have been getting their own way for a long time… maybe a change is on the horizon after this summer.


      • schlom - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        I think the difference was the huge transfer fee offered for Bale. Whether or not Tottenham wanted him to stay the decision was really a no-brainer. When the fees are a lot lower (Rooney and Suarez’s fees would have been half of Bale’s at best) it makes it a lot easier to hang onto the player.

      • mdac1012 - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        I understand what you are saying, but I believe the real reason Suarez and Rooney didnt get what they wanted was because the teams saw what happened to Arsenal last year and the backlash from the fans that Wenger got for selling their best player to a main rival and handing Man-U the title. So unless Arsenal or Chelsea came in with just ridicoulous offers, those players werent getting moved. I don’t think it has to do with shifts in power from players to clubs or anything like that. Ultimately, teams are going to do whats in their best interests, whether it proves a bigger point or not.

        As great a player as Bale is, it was in Tottehams best interest to move him. Real paid crazy money for him, the Spurs moved him out of the league and were able to bring in 7 quality players to replace him. If Man-U came in for him at 45 million pounds, I dare to say he would still be with Tottenham. Suarez thought Real Madrid was going to come in for him. Again, if Real Madrid was willing to pay Liverpool a big enough transfer fee, I think Suarez would have gotten what he wanted and Liverpool would have gone out and brought in 5 or 6 players. But since only Arsenal came in at a low fee, it’s easy for Liverpool to say no and look like they are taking a tough stance.

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