It's not very often that stealing a highly-rated player away from your rival club can end up hurting you, but Chelsea are entering that very scenario after snagging Willian from the grasp of Tottenham earlier this week.
Spurs were set on acquiring Willian—a longtime target of manager Andre Villas-Boas—as he was in the midst of his Tottenham medical evaluation when Chelsea swooped in, as per Jacob Steinberg and David Hytner of the Guardian.
According to the report, Tottenham initially had a £30 million agreement with Willian's club Anzhi Makhachkala, but Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich personally contacted the club's owner and narrowly topped Spurs' bid with a £32 million deal.
Per Steinberg and Hytner, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was furious over the deal as he believes Chelsea never truly wanted Willian and were simply keeping him from joining a rival club.
So, that gets us to this question: How in the world could Chelsea signing a £30-plus million player in the prime of his career away from Tottenham end up working against them?
Two words: Gareth Bale.
Spurs' superstar forward was set on a move to Real Madrid before Tottenham missed out on their big-time target, according to Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail. Now, the enraged Spurs brass have lost their replacement for Bale and may not have a conceivable replacement to chase now that the transfer window is nearing its end.
The Mirror also reported that Tottenham will halt talks with Madrid over the £94 million man.
Inserting Willian into the lineup would've been a solid replacement, but now without him at White Hart Lane, things are suddenly much different for Tottenham.
It may be unbelievable and baffling for some clubs that Tottenham would even hold onto a player who they could turn around in a day for a price that would shatter the world record. But for a Spurs squad that has real Premier League title aspirations, it's not exactly surprising.
Tottenham is still a solid bunch without Bale or Willian, but not nearly a squad capable of winning a Premier League title.
Bale leaves for another league and suddenly the chances of winning for every club not named Tottenham shoots up. Bale stays at Tottenham and those same clubs are stuck playing against one of the top few players on the planet.
I don't mean to discount Willian—he's an excellent footballer who can move the ball up into attacking zones and help set up plays for his teammates. He'll excel at Chelsea, but he's no Bale.
Perhaps the Blues picked up Willian because they believe that he's a perfect fit for the squad and that they need him.
But if they were just trying to pull a fast one on their rivals by taking one of their targets, it'll certainly come back to bite them if Bale ends up sticking around because of it.
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