A couple of summers ago, Tottenham embarked on a transfer splurge of hitherto unseen proportions, ostensibly to convince Gareth Bale to stick around White Hart Lane for a little while longer, but really because they figured the Welsh winger’s mega-money move to Real Madrid was a done deal.
Among the seven new signings made by Spurs’ brain trust, made up of chairman Daniel Levy, technical director Franco Baldini and then-head coach Andre Villas-Boas, was attacking-midfielder Christian Eriksen for £10m from Ajax, under the noses of long-time admirers Liverpool.
A year earlier, during Villas-Boas’ first pre-season in charge in north London, the Lilywhites beat the Reds to the signings of both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey, and almost turned the screw on Liverpool again after capturing Eriksen late on in the 2013 summer window.
Levy and co managed to convince Brazilian winger Willian to ignore Brendan Rodgers’ overtures and head south to sign for the Lilywhites, but Chelsea got wind of the move and gazumped Spurs at the last minute.
Back then, it seemed as if Spurs were in the ascendency, while Liverpool languished a long way behind the top four, but another deal Levy failed to pull off two years ago is set to come back and bite his beloved football plaything.
Last season’s fifth and sixth-place Premier League clubs are both thought to be in for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, holder of an impressive top-flight strike rate of 42 goals in 88 appearances, but the Evening Standard believes the £32m-rated Belgium international refuses to contemplate a switch to White Hart Lane.
The London freesheet states that Benteke handed in a transfer request at Villa during the summer of 2013, in anticipation of a £25m bid from Spurs for his services which never arrived.
Understandably, the 24-year-old still feels the keen sting of that humiliation and won’t risk a repeat this summer, even if Levy manages to broker a deal the Midlanders find acceptable.
As it is, that’s not likely to happen, with Benteke thought to be on the verge of becoming Liverpool’s seventh signing of the summer after Rodgers rang the bell on England right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who leaves Southampton in a £12.5m move.
Furthermore, Spurs are reportedly only shopping for players valued at £15m or less, which doesn’t seem like the smartest way to plug a six-point gap to the top four, especially with all the sides around them likely to have no such limits.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are priced up at 4/1 with bwin.com to go at least one better than their fifth-place finish last term in 2015/16.