Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spurs To Sign Peter Crouch and Move for ex-Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira

Peter Crouch is going back to the club who rejected him as a schoolboy after Harry Redknapp bargained Portsmouth down to Spurs' valuation of the player.

Crouch will be reunited with another ex-Pompey player, Jermain Defoe, as Spurs build to challenge for the Champions League positions.

Last week, Portsmouth and Sunderland agreed upon a £12m fee for the English international, and after Crouch met with both Niall Quinn and Steve Bruce to discuss terms, it was widely expected that he would sign for the Black Cats.

But the transfer market has a strange way of working, and after Harry Redknapp was asked by a journalist in the build up to Friday's match with Barcelona, if he was interested in signing the striker, Redknapp spoke gushingly about the player.

But more importantly, he said that £12m for a 28-year-old accompanied by £50k per week was too expensive for Spurs.

Of course, this coming from the man who was negotiating with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who is 26 and is worth £18m and who wants £70k per week, was little more than open bargaining, and possibly using inside information on Portsmouth's financial situation.

On hearing that his ex-manager was interested, Crouch pulled out of the Sunderland deal and told Pompey boss, Paul Hart, that he wanted to join Spurs if they put in a bid.

Faced with having a player on their books that they could not afford, Crouch was on £70k per week, Pompey were forced to accept Spurs lower bid of £10m.

Crouch becomes the second Portsmouth player after fellow strike partner, Jermain Defoe, also returned to his ex-club in January, and the duo are widely expected to renew their partnership in Spurs' new-look strike force.

After negotiating his way to Spurs, Crouch will sign on a new five-year deal that will secure his future until he reaches 33. He will also accept a reduction of £1m a year in wages after he signed on to meet Spurs' wage structure, at £50k per week.

"Given the severe financial restraints in place here we had no choice but to accept an offer from Spurs," Hart said.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed to see Peter leave. (But) I think people need to realise that Pompey have been punching way above their weight and could no longer sustain the level of spending that has gone on here over the past three years.

"And even though a new owner is poised to come in, our dealings in the market will be modest in comparison to the past."

Crouch going back to Spurs is only one kind of home-coming, as he will be re-united with Harry Redknapp for the third time, after stints at Southampton and Portsmouth.

The deal to bring the striker to White Hart Lane will have long term ramifications for certain players on the books at White Hart Lane.

Sunderland were forced to move for Crouch after Spurs rebuked their initial approach for Darren Bent. The Black Cats had bid £10m, but Daniel Levy turned the offer down as he wanted £15m.

Both he and Harry Redknapp had some stern words for each other, but Levy explained that he wanted to re-coup as much of the £18m that Spurs had paid Charlton for the strikers services.

But now that Harry has saved Spurs £2m, it looks more than likely that they will now accept Sunderland's original offer.

Another player that has been offered around is Roman Pavlyuchenko, but after the Crouch signing, it looks as if Harry is going for his favoured "little and large" partnership up front.

Russian manager Guus Hiddink has pleaded with his striker to "get the finger out" and play to his highest level, so there could be a repreive of sorts, for this season.

While Spurs once again improve their striking options, they have remained quiet in the other departments of the team.

The two Kyles, Walker and Naughton, have signed from Sheffield United as defensive cover, primarily in the full back positions.

Didier Zokora has been allowed to leave for Sevilla, after the two clubs agreed upon a fee of £8.6m, and clubs like Aston Villa and Inter Milan monitoring the situation regarding Jermaine Jenas' future at the club, it would seem an area that needs strengthening immediately.

With both Aston Villa and Inter Milan monitoring Jenas' situation, Spurs need to bring in a midfielder. Ashley Young has been chased by Spurs all summer, initially Villa enquired about David Bentley, but Spurs came back with a counter proposal.

David Bentley and £10m for Young. The deal seemed dead in the water until Villa signed fellow left-sided player Stewart Downing.

Villa are more interested in acquiring the services of Jermaine Jenas, so another central player to partner Wilson Palacios is of immediate concern to Harry Redknapp.

The surprise for the candidate for the position is none other than ex-Arsenal captain and midfield general, Patrick Vieira.

At 33, his best days are behind him, but 'Arry sees his influence off the pitch being as, if not more important, than his influence on the pitch.

"I think Patrick would improve us. He would give us a real presence in the team. He's been there, he's done it all, he's a fantastic professional. He's a leader," said Redknapp.

"You need people who have been there and done it and won it and that's what he would give you.

"He's got a good contract there (Milan) but he's definitely interested and I'm interested in him coming. The players will respond to him. He's a proper professional.

"He was a legend at Arsenal and he wants to come to Tottenham to play, not for the money. The money is probably a third of the money he was earning at Milan.

"He wants to come because he wants to play football. He would bring an awful lot to our football club."

The potential signing of the player who was voted the fifth best Arsenal player of all time would be a huge one for the White Hart Lane club. It would be very reminiscent of the great Dave MacKay being allowed to leave Spurs to join Derby County in the early '70s.

At the time, it was felt within Spurs, and Division 1 in general, that the powerhouse midfielder did not have the legs to play at the highest level anymore.

There were no bids from any team of significance but Derby's wily manager Brian Clough saw something in MacKay that all others had missed.

He saw attitude, the will to win, influence, and superb leadership qualities, exactly what his young team needed.

One season later, playing at centre half, MacKay led Derby to the title.

That won't happen this time around, especially not with the finances that clubs like Liverpool, United, and Chelsea have at their disposal.

But it is conceivable that with Vieira at the helm that Spurs would mount a serious challenge for fourth place.

One other reason for bringing Vieira to Tottenham, is the influence that he will have over the next generation of Spurs players, and more specifically, Spurs midfielders.

To have a player like Vieira passing on his knowledge to young prodigy John Bostock would be of a huge benefit to club and player alike.

In seeing and naming Vieira as a player who could have huge influence within the club, Harry seems to be signalling the end of the love affair between Spurs and Ledley King.

King's prowess as a defender is well known, even with his current injury problems, Fabio Capello called him up into the full England squad, only for Redknapp to campaign for his release on compassionate grounds for Spurs.

Between matches, Spurs wrap King in the proverbial cotton wool, and have employed a fitness trainer specifically for the defender. In short they have invested a lot of time, money, and faith, in their captain.

That show of faith by Redknapp was returned in spades by King towards the end of last season after the Spurs defender being "tired and emotional" in a nightclub in the west-end of London became embroiled in a fracas and got himself arrested.

For his manager this was a step too far. Lines were drawn in the sand, and Spurs have courted players of "presence" ever since.

Spurs are still short of the kind of squad that should challenge Arsenal for fourth, but the prospective signings of Crouch and Vieira are a move in the right direction.

For the first time since the early '80s and the halcyon days of Keith Burkinshaw, Spurs seem to be making genuine progress. Redkapp is well documented as this being his last job in football.

And after 26 years as a manager including one rollercoaster year at White Hart Lane, the general feeling is that things are looking up for Spurs.

This is the general feeling that Spurs' fans go through every year, but this time it feels a little different.

Maybe Harry is leaving his best 'til last.

Spurs fans hope so.

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