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Tottenham’s Lo Celso deal is a loan to buy... and it screws PSG

Daniel Levy is a GENIUS.

Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg
Look at this smug bastard. Don’t you just wanna kiss that bald head?
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Think about this protracted transfer saga this summer for Giovani Lo Celso. The major problem with it and the reason that it’s taken so long is that Real Betis has a sell-on clause, reportedly 20%, to Paris St. Germain, Lo Celso’s old club. That means that whatever the transfer fee made by Tottenham Hotspur for Lo Celso’s contract is, 20% of it goes immediately to PSG.

That’s a problem. Naturally, that means that Betis wants to get as much as humanly possible for Lo Celso, because otherwise they could end up barely making a profit after signing him from PSG earlier this summer. And that’s meant that the two clubs have been at loggerheads for who knows how long, staring each other down — Tottenham knowing that Betis need to sell and that there weren’t any other clubs interested in Lo Celso at the rate Spurs were willing to pay, and Betis knowing that Spurs really, REALLY want this guy and could pay more if forced to.

Now, imagine you’re Daniel Levy. Spurs may or may not have a great deal of liquidity this summer, even if they have funds available heading into the future. But that pesky sell-on clause means that they’ll basically be paying PSG a non-trivial amount of money to get their guy. There are also other transfer deadline day deals that you’re working on too, all of which needs money up front. I wonder if there’s a way around this, you wonder.

Here’s the BBC’s David Ornstein (The Ornacle) with the answer. Ignore the first bit about Ryan Sessegnon.

Whoa. A loan with an obligation to buy? Why in the world would Spurs do that? Alasdair Gold provides the context.

So Levy engineers a loan deal with a guaranteed obligation to buy. Functionally, that’s not much different than buying the player outright. However, while we don’t know all the details, presumably this does the following:

  • Increases the total bid amount so Betis are happier with the overall fee
  • Structures the deal so that Spurs presumably are able to pay less up front than what they normally would, which frees up more funds for... hello Paulo Dybala
  • Screws over PSG by having what is probably a fairly large loan fee (maybe something close to the amount that Spurs wanted to pay up front for Lo Celso anyway), which then reduces the total purchase price, thereby making their 20% cut smaller.

That is absolute GENIUS. I mean, if I’m PSG, I’m probably furious, but for everyone else involved in the deal it’s a fair and equitable arrangement.

I don’t want to hear another word about how Daniel Levy is ruining the club.

UPDATE (10:26PM ET): Here are the supposed details of the Lo Celso deal.