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Aug 21, 2012

Deja vu at Spurs as Levy delays again

There are two certainties on the North London football landscape at this time of the year and after Arsenal continued recent tradition by selling two of their best players days before the end of the transfer window, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has sprung into life to fulfil his part of this annual saga.

For the umpteenth August, the notoriously obstructive deal maker at the Spurs helm is positioning himself for a frantic final week of transfer activity. After months of posturing and bartering - two pastimes Levy appears to enjoy with a little too much relish – his grand plan is about to move into overdrive.

On a day that saw defender Sebastien Bassong end his miserable wait to play for a club that scrapped its reserve side long ago by joining Norwich, and popular centre-back Michael Dawson appear likely to follow him out of Spurs by joining QPR or Stoke, Levy emerged from his bunker to announce a deal that has been rumbling on for more than six months.

Levy started negotiating a deal to sign Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City at the turn of the year, with the transfer apparently set to be sealed in unfamiliarly speedy fashion at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. However, Harry Redknapp's improbable sacking, combined with Adebyaor's unpalatable demands for a 'loyalty bonus' as he was forced to terminate his near £180,000-a-week contract at Manchester City, halted the deal's completion.

The confusion meant new Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas started the Premier League season with just one senior striker in Jermain Defoe, with Saturday's defeat at Newcastle reviving memories of a start to last season that ultimately cost Levy and Tottenham so much.

It was the furore over the future of midfielder Luka Modric that undermined Redknapp's plans 12 months ago and only when Levy belatedly finished his transfer dealings did Spurs emerge as the third best team in the Premier League. The trouble was, they had given their rivals a two-game head start and ended up missing out on Champions League qualification by a fraction.

Now history is repeating itself, as Modric's future still floats in the air just days before the transfer window slams shut, amid rumours emerging that Chelsea have renewed their interest in the Croatian who they made a concerted effort to sign last summer.

Modric and Levy favour doing business with long-time suitors Real Madrid and this remains the most likely option, yet the prolonged nature of the deal has weakened the club's hand to replace Modric and now Premier League points are already being lost.

The quartet of Heurelho Gomes, Tom Huddlestone, David Bentley and Giovani dos Santos could all be caught up in Levy-style negotiations as they look to engineer a route out of Tottenham in coming days, while transfer targets will also be faced with a potential employer who is as famous for obstructing a transfer as he is concluding one.

"This Spurs chairman tries to make himself famous in the world of football, but this isn't the way to do it", suggested Croatia coach Igor Stimac when discussing the Modric impasse, though such criticism will not ruffle the feathers of a bullish financier who appears to relish the jostle of the transfer circus.

Levy will argue with some justification that his reluctance to sell players without months of negotiations can reap dividends, with the stunning £50 million extracted from Manchester United for the sales of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick in recent years evidence that his patience can lead to increased sale prices.

However, his legendary intransigence has already hampered Villas-Boas's bid to stamp his authority on the club and if Tottenham are to fall short of their expectations this summer, the chairman devising their vision may have even bigger questions to answer than the manager he has staked his reputation on.

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