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Tottenham in negotiations to compensate Shakhtar for Manor Solomon

It’s the right thing to do, but also calls into question why Spurs went after Solomon to begin with.

Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotpsur’s free transfer signing of Manor Solomon has been a little controversial, to say the least. The Israeli winger, until recently owned by Shakhtar Donetsk, spent last season on loan at Fulham by directive of FIFA as Ukrainian football was severely disrupted by the ongoing war. After hostilities broke out, FIFA issued a rule change, Annex 7, that allowed foreign naturals playing in Russia and Ukraine to unilaterally suspend their contracts so they could go elsewhere.

Spurs took advantage of that situation and signed Solomon on a free transfer at the conclusion of his Fulham loan, which understandably pissed Shakhtar off. Now, as reported by James Olley at ESPN, Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin has confirmed that the club and Tottenham are in negotiations for some sort of compensation package for Solomon’s transfer.

“We had conversations with Tottenham, with [Spurs Director of Football Administration and Governance] Rebecca [Caplehorn]. We agreed she will send propositions.

“We are now in, let’s say, a negotiation process with them. I hope and I believe we will find a solution. At this moment, it is quite early to tell something specific because we are on the way in these negotiations.”

Olley writes that Shakhtar and Palkin are hoping to recoup at minimum the €6.5m (£5.6m) that they paid for Solomon when they signed him from Maccabi Petah Tikva in 2019. While nothing is agreed yet, compensation could come either from direct funds, or some sort of sell-on percentage clause to Solomon’s Spurs contract. Palkin frames the negotiations as a means of establishing equity under extreme situations, and he’s not wrong in that way.

“We want to cover our losses. For Tottenham, it is not big money. We paid €6.5m and I don’t believe this is huge money for a club of Tottenham’s level, for a club that participates in the English Premier League. I believe it is possible to cover these losses. I am not trying to generate some kind of profit.

“I believe we will find a solution. I don’t know if they will accept €6.5m but I believe we will find a solution. From an image point of view, they don’t need this kind of case.

“This kind of case smells not so good because when you sign a free guy who should go for €20m, it is not good. We played a good friendly game, they were open with us, they helped us etc etc. Therefore I feel these relations, we have good relations with Tottenham and I believe these relations will help us to find a good solution. I believe in a maximum of two weeks, we will find a solution.”

So on the one hand I’ve always felt a little weird about Tottenham taking advantage of a FIFA wartime rule that is established to protect players but ends up kinda screwing over a Ukrainian football club. That never really sat right with me, even though Tottenham were not breaking any rules. In that sense, the lion’s share of the ire should be directed at FIFA. From an equity perspective, Palkin and Shakhtar have every right to try and get some sort of compensation from Spurs for Solomon, because it feels pretty crappy to just leave them high and dry for that, something Palkin points out.

“How is it possible from one side, you release all our players, contract finish and they become free for the market? Clubs sign our players for whom we paid millions of dollars or euros but nobody helps us. At the same time, FIFA push us to pay back all our debts.

“After the war started, I have up to €40m in debts. This is debts for players who were released by FIFA and at the same time, I cannot sell players, I cannot loan players but at the same time I need to generate money for player. It is a ridiculous situation.”

But also... like, I’ve never fully understand why we went after Solomon at all, apart from the price. I know I’ve never been really high on him from the beginning, and while he’s shown moments of ability I’ve said since the news first broke on our interest that his stats are weird and that he’d be using up a super-valuable foreign roster spot. The only real redeeming part of this deal was the price, and even that felt opportunistic and shifty based on Annex 7. I know we’re not talking a lot of money for a club like Spurs, and I disagree with Palkin that Solomon’s a €20m player, but right now I’m not seeing much evidence that this move hasn’t backfired.

I know Spurs wouldn’t do this but I’d actually be okay with Tottenham letting Solomon return to Shakhtar in January. With Ivan Perisic’s injury that would leave Spurs a little thin on that left wing position, but Tottenham have Bryan Gil returning from injury and Jamie Donley who’s tearing it up in the U23s. Or they could, y’know, go out and sign someone better. I’d be okay with that too.