The agreement between Tottenham Hotspur and Olympique Marseille over the transfer of winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou and the loan of Clinton N’Jie back to France is in serious jeopardy this morning. Multiple outlets are reporting that the deal is either dead, or on life support, with Spurs ready to walk away from the deal entirely.
French sports website and tabloid Le Phoceen was the first to break the story late yesterday, reporting that the deal was “abandoned” and that N’Jie had returned to Tottenham to begin training for the new season at Spurs. N’Koudou has reportedly been in London for the past two weeks waiting confirmation of the transfer.
This morning Le Phoceen elaborated further, suggesting that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy renegotiated the deal for N’Koudou in bad faith after former Marseille president Vincent Labrune left the club; the implication is that Levy tried to strong-arm new president Giovanni Ciccolunghi and sporting director Gunter Jacob into a deal that was much more favorable to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Guardian reports something similar, and also tries to make the connection between the breakdown in talks over N’Jie and N’Koudou to yesterday’s story on the resignation of Spurs’ Head of Recruitment Paul Mitchell.
This is a very odd story, and it’s going to end up being essentially a Rorschach test on what you think of Daniel Levy as a tough negotiator. Critics of Levy, and there are many, will instantly assume that it was his in-bad-faith meddling that led to Spurs not being able to get these transfers over the line, and torpedoing his relationship with Mitchell in the process.
However, if you’re not predisposed to already disliking Daniel Levy, this story doesn’t really fit with Levy’s modus operandi. Levy is known for being a fierce negotiator and will use every negotiating tactic he can in order to get the best possible deal for the club. He’s undoubtedly a pain in the ass to deal with – we already know that in negotiations he “likes to squeeze your balls until your eyes start to water” – but the only time I can recall someone accusing Levy of actively negotiating in bad faith was a few years ago when Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas blasted him over the transfer of Hugo Lloris... and Aulas is a windbag and hardly a reliable character witness.
Moreover, Lyall Thomas in
the Guardian Sky Sports wrote a few days ago on how the delay on N’Koudou and N’Jie had more to do with the change in leadership at Marseille moving the financial goalposts. This would seem to contradict the line coming out of France that it’s all Daniel Levy’s fault.
Regardless, while the deal isn’t quite dead, it certainly seems a heck of a lot less likely now than it did just a few days ago. Walking away from the N’Koudou deal may not significantly impact Tottenham’s plans for the immediate future – they’re still linked with a move for another attacking midfielder and were regardless of the results of N’Koudou, and it would mean that Clinton N’Jie could once again have a chance to prove himself at White Hart Lane.
There’s a lot of conflicting information floating around out there, and it’s surmised that most of this will be cleared up with time. At the moment, however, this deal seems to be a casualty of fierce negotiations and changes in leadership.
Or you can just blame it all on me. I moved, everyone. This is my fault, I’m sorry.