What’s so “special” about our special relationship with Real Madrid?

August 2012: Luka Modric signed for Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for £30m and both teams confirmed that they had entered into a “special relationship”. The special relationship was said to involve players, coaching ideas, friendlies and commercial aspects. The majority of fans thought that it was just a way for Madrid to ensure that they signed Bale this summer and we all know what happened there…

Fast forward a year and we haven’t seen any coaching ideas shared, apart from the obvious there’s been no player interaction, no friendlies and nothing done on a commercial aspect, unless you count the constant tapping up of Bale for a few months as commercial advertising. So what is this relationship?

As I said, apart from the constant tapping up that happened with Bale, there has been no obvious proof of any kind of relationship between the two clubs. In fact you can’t even say that demonstrates a relationship between the two clubs. At the end of last season representatives of Spurs kept insisting that Bale was not for sale, that he had a good few years left on his contract and as far as they were concerned he was a part of the plans of AVB. But it didn’t stop Madrid, their representatives and others to keep insisting that Bale was on his way to Madrid. Even Zinedine Zidane (the advisor to Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid President) was in the papers saying that Bale should sign for them. Madrid also had the Spanish newspaper Marca making up stories about Bale being upset and getting Madrid tops made up with “Bale 11” on the back. Their constant “tapping up” of Bale would have resulted in a FIFA fine had it been anyone else.

Anyway, Madrid got their man, Spurs got A LOT of money and everyone was happy right? Well not really. This “Special Relationship” seems to only be working in one teams favour. Madrid could have put any of their squad players into the transfer, to help keep their output of money down and help us strengthen our own squad. There was heavy talk of Fabio Coentrao being involved in the deal but if paper talk is to be believed he almost signed for Manchester United on deadline day, and not us. There was talk of other players but Coentrao seemed the most likely and that never worked out.

And then there is Muzit Ozil: Sold to the enemy down the road after Madrid had signed our star man. Weakening us and strengthening them. This transfer was the proverbial icing on the cake for most fans: Madrid had mugged us off and done the dirty with the enemy.
But did we have first dibs on Ozil? Had he been muted as part of the Bale deal at an earlier date and refused to come to us as we didn’t have Champions League football? Could this be why we signed Christian Eriksen and Eric Lamela so late in the transfer window compared to our other signings? These facts we will never know but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was the case. Ozil is one of the best players in the world and going to a team not in the Champions League would have been a step back for him, especially in a World Cup year.
As much as we would like to think that Madrid wouldn’t do business with our most local and fierce rivals as we are affiliated with them, I doubt there was ever anything written in a contract saying that they couldn’t do business with them.

Of course, all the aspects of our “special relationship” could be done behind closed doors, without us knowing about it. We may have had coaches and representatives of Madrid may have already been over to our training ground to exchange ideas, and our coaches and representatives could have already been across to Madrid to learn how they run things. Unless the clubs make anything public knowledge we will never know whether or not anything like this has ever happened.

So should we allow our “special relationship” carry on? Has there been enough done in both directions to warrant it or have Madrid seen us just as a feeder club? I’ll leave that up to you.

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