Massive marquee signings an echo of profligate times past
Gareth Bale: said to be “horrified” and “distraught” at Tottenham’s stance over Real Madrid bid. Photograph: Getty Images.
In a few short years, social media has revolutionised coverage of football during the close season. We now see detailed coverage of football players’ summer holidays, as the players supply the holiday photographs papers used to have to pay paparazzi to acquire.
The traditionally football-free summer months are now enlivened with shots of players in Miami or Barbados or Sardinia. Andy Carroll dancing in a giant chipmunk suit in Vegas, Gareth Bale posing with Transformers in Orlando. Everybody looks so happy.
Maybe the problem is that footballers’ holidays have become too much fun, because now that it’s time to go back to work many of them have succumbed to the blues.
Luis Suarez’s advisers have not yet provided any bulletins detailing their client’s emotional state.
They don’t need to: his doleful expression throughout the club’s tour of Asia shows everyone how he feels about his current station in life. Wayne Rooney has missed Manchester United’s tour, but sources close to him who recently reported he was “angry and confused” have given no indication of an improvement in his mood.
However, Rooney is in a better emotional place than Gareth Bale, whose chairman at Spurs, Daniel Levy, has reportedly turned down a world record €100 million bid from Real Madrid. Levy’s stance is said to have left Bale “horrified” and “distraught”.
News of Bale’s consternation makes it sound as though agents are about to run out of words to describe the unspeakable sadness afflicting their players. They may soon be forced to trawl the literary canon for phrases of sufficient emotional power. “Christian Benteke’s agent has told Sky Sports News that the player is frustrated at Aston Villa’s refusal to consider offers from clubs in the Champions League. ‘The club are being totally unreasonable. I’m afraid Christian wears the wry-faced pucker of the sour lemon moon’.”
And “sources close to Yohan Cabaye say the midfielder is in shock at the collapse of his proposed move. ‘Yohan’s absolutely gutted. He’s seen the mermaids singing, each to each. He does not think that they will sing to him’.”
The language used in reports about Bale becomes more understandable when you imagine the feelings of a football agent who has just been informed by an intransigent chairman that he can forget about claiming commission on a €100 million transfer fee. Horrified and distraught is probably about right.
There must also be a measure of hope though, because if Madrid really are prepared to pay €100 million, the deal will surely happen; €100 million is 56 per cent of Tottenham’s turnover – the sum would cover their entire payroll for a year.
Bale is a magnificent footballer, easily the best to play for Spurs since Paul Gascoigne. But at some point Spurs will have to ask themselves: how much bigger than the club do we think this player really is?