Gareth Bale has signed for Real Madrid. Or has he? (Getty Images)
The final day of the transfer window is upon us. It brings with it the conclusion of long drawn out soap operas surrounding the future of many a football player. Clubs must feel like Walmart staff do on days of national emergencies, when citizens make a last minute beeline to stores to ensure that they are well stocked during a calamity.
Except in this case, the beeline is made by club executives and managers shopping for players; those put up on the shelf for display with the ‘SALE’ tag, as well as those secretly stashed away behind closed doors, not appearing on the menu, but likely to be parted with by the owner in the likelihood of a bid that is just too good to refuse.
The Gareth Bale saga, the season’s long-running transfer saga is over. So you thought.
According to trusted sources, all is not well with the deal. Here is why, and we promise you that the ending might leave you a little shell-shocked. We were.
If our well-placed sources are to be believed, Bale is to be sent back to Tottenham Hotspur from Real Madrid on a season-long loan. A deal similar to the arrangement that Crystal Palace had in place with Manchester United for Wilfried Zaha, when Sir Alex Ferguson signed up the young English winger in the January transfer window.
Apparently, all is not well inside the Santiago Bernabeu. The Los Blancos alpha male, Cristiano Ronaldo, has reportedly thrown a tantrum at being eclipsed by Bale as the most expensive player in the world. Post yesterday’s match against Athletic Bilbao (in which he scored and didn’t celebrate), Ronaldo spent the night out with want away Brazilian midfielder Kaka, who told the press that he empathised with Ronaldo, as he was a victim of the very same circumstances when Madrid broke the world record to sign the Portuguese just weeks after breaking it to land Kaka.
Real president Florentino Perez has a situation on his hand, as Ronaldo has once again gone “sad” and no amount of consoling from even the lovely Irina Shayk has been able to draw the Portuguese superstar out of his brooding. Perez is even ready to sanction a two-week layoff for CR7, including a trip to Madeira to get a good tan, in order to appease his flamboyant forward.
Apart from the Ronaldo strut, the cheque that Real handed Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy for the purchase of Bale has reportedly bounced due to insufficient funds. Now, you may wonder how that could happen at one of the richest clubs in the world. But it does seem the case, and much of the blame has been attributed to a third club and its manager.
Mesut Ozil is reportedly a key player in the dealings
As part of the Bale deal, Perez had reportedly telephoned Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who in turn had promised to sign Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria from Madrid with his ‘war-chest’, which would have helped Real balance the salary books and recoup some of the money invested on Bale.
It was rumoured in the press that Tottenham delayed the departure of Bale so that Arsenal could not sign any players in time. But, truth be told, it was actually Madrid and Perez who were delaying the deal, lying in wait for Wenger to show his hand.
Infuriated at this act of betrayal, and with time running out, Perez pushed through the deal and eventually put forward a proposal to Tottenham that involved payment through a post-dated cheque. (Perez’s close aides say that even with Wenger backing out, he had David Moyes and Manchester United in mind for a clear-out sale).
However the proposal was swiftly rejected, even before it reached the desk of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, by one of the interns who found the deal to not be exploitative enough. By this time, Levy had arranged a two-day holiday for Bale in Spain, at a palatial villa where the media pictured the Welsh wizard wading through a swimming pool.
Levy was in fact playing rope-a-dope with the salivating journalists from Marca, who assumed that Bale had come to Spain to complete a move to Real. He was in fact there as an inside man to Levy, monitoring the progress of negotiations between Arsenal and Madrid.
Levy and Tottenham manger Andre Villas-Boas, had in the meantime, put together a squad that was capable of threatening for the league title itself. And Bale’s mind had by now been turned about Tottenham being a better bet than a Spanish giant with a new manager and a “sad” Ronaldo, who was putting up his candidature for the Incredible Sulk.
Though Spurs lost the North London derby 1-0 last evening to an exuberant Arsenal side, who had barely shelled out a pound in comparison to their rivals’ extravagant spending, AVB was pictured doing a wild celebration outside his house, akin to his eccentric celebrations on the touchline, when Tottenham confirmed that they had reached an agreement with Real Madrid for the transfer of Gareth Bale. Pictures of the same were uploaded on Instagram by Emmanuel Adebayor, who was so overjoyed that he contemplated running from London to Madrid in order to celebrate in front of the Real fans.
Emmanuel Adebayor doing a dance, the likes of which he repeated last night (Getty Images)
Tottenham’s extravagant spending was supposed to be a tell-tale sign of the Bale deal going through, as Daniel Levy and Co. were assumed to be spending the money they had received for Bale. They have now added the pending payment to the sunk cost account they had created to accommodate for the arrears in payment from their last bit of business with Madrid, when they sold Luka Modric to that ‘mob’.
No deal could be struck with Manchester United either for the sale of these players, as manager David Moyes had refused to keep his end of the bargain by publicly going to the media about who the club were chasing. The agents of Ozil, Benzema and Di Maria expressed their unhappiness at this development, and soon told Perez that their clients had no interest in playing for a manager who seemed intent on providing live commentary on the actions of his transfer targets.
Plus, Moyes is apparently completely sold on bringing a certain afro-sporting Belgian midfielder to Old Trafford, who he is convinced is the solution to all of the club’s problems. And Ed Woodward was simply too busy snapping up an entire playing XI of sponsors, seemingly still stuck in his former role involving commercial operations.
So Gareth Bale is coming back to White Hart Lane. He is going to stick around for another season, and with the players that Spurs have got, they are going to (hold your breath) – win the Premier League title.
Tears of unadulterated joy are to flow down the cheeks of Spurs fans, forever taunted and teased by their rivals from Arsenal. Not only are they poised to usurp Le Profeseur and his team, they are on their way to finishing top of the heap and hold aloft that Premier League trophy come the final day. As Idris Elba announced in Pacific Rim, that would be the day that Spurs “cancelled the apocalypse”.
And, what about Wenger, the man reportedly at the centre of all the chaos? He has been at the eye of the storm surrounding all that has come to pass in this transfer window. If he had just signed those three players with “come and get me” sign boards attached to them, the whole mess could have been avoided.
When approached by reporters outside his home during his morning walk, Wenger simply reverted to one of his trademark lines – “I didn’t see it”.
And when pressed to say something else, he simply flung a water bottle at the motley crew.