An already eventful transfer season at White Hart Lane became even more compelling on Wednesday, when Tottenham Hotspur allowed Steven Caulker to join Cardiff City, while having a spanner thrown in the works of their move for Steaua Bucharest’s Vlad Chiriches by the club’s imprisoned owner.
But let’s start with Caulker.
The 21-year-old completed a medical at promoted Cardiff earlier in the day, paving the way for his £8 million move to The Bluebirds—a fee that represents a club record for the Welsh side.
“I spoke to [manager Malky Mackay] yesterday, liked what he had to say and am excited about the plans he has for the football club,” he told Cardiff City Player, adding, “I thank Tottenham for everything they’ve done for me, having been there since I was a kid. But I’m here to back myself up now and show what I can do.”
Why he’ll be showing it at Cardiff City Stadium instead of White Hart Lane is a bit curious, especially after he seemed to make a good impression at Spurs last season following a loan spell at Swansea.
An up-and-coming central defender who started 17 Premier League matches in 2012-13, Caulker showed good concentration, was rarely caught out of position and was the first man to potentially dangerous balls (he averaged an impressive 10.1 clearances per match) more often than his opponents. (All statistics courtesy WhoScored.com.)
And although Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson were clearly set to start the upcoming campaign as Villas-Boas’ go-to pairing, Caulker was always only an injury or single rotation away from being the first man called up to fill the gap. In that light, his sale would seem a careless one, especially as the man supposedly on his way to add defensive depth to the side—Chiriches—might not be leaving Romania any time soon.
From his jail cell where he is serving a three-year sentence for his part in a land exchange scheme, Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali reacted furiously to the news of Chiriches’ impending exit, apparently instructing his staff to hold off on the move as he was “not a slave to anybody,” Goal reported.
Steaua GM Stoica: "I talked to Chiriches, I told him he isn't moving this summer. He'll be with us til January at least. He owes S a lot"— Emanuel Roşu (@Emishor) July 31, 2013
Chiriches, 23, was one of his current side’s strongest players during an extended run in the Europa League last season, scoring three goals in 10 appearances in the competition while being named "Man of the Match" twice. He also turned out 26 times for Steaua in the Romanian league, which the Bucharest giants won for the first time since 2006.
Allowing Caulker to leave while being thwarted, at least temporarily, in their efforts to land Chiriches has left Spurs on the back foot. There is still hope for Vilas-Boas, as Chiriches' agent Ioan Becali feels a deal will go ahead, reports the Daily Mirror's Darren Lewis.
"It's at the 99% mark," the Mirror quotes Becali as saying. "It is made, it lacks only the signature of the boy, who will arrive soon.
"Steaua had offers of £6m and £6.5m, but did not accept and said they only want £6.9m. Now the offer is on the table."
And on to Bale. Club chairman Daniel Levy has dug in his heels over Bale, but it would appear he’s set to lose out on that front as well.
Tottenham could use some good news in the coming days, but if Wednesday is any indication, the club’s fans could be in for a few more loops before the roller coaster ride becomes any smoother.