The Last Word: Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale's art of manipulation

Briefings are off the record leading to transfer speculation which is merely a means to an end

What has greater worth in a world of instant gratification, relentless inanity and carefully constructed fantasy: 5,000 newly qualified nurses, 4,500 teachers, 4,200 police constables or a solitary footballer?

It's a trick question, of course. Each is valued at £105 million. The disproportionate importance placed on profitable frivolity, in the form of Gareth Bale's inevitable transfer to Real Madrid, is utterly indefensible, but a fact of modern life.

Bale, the man, is reassuringly ordinary. He dotes on his infant daughter and finds solace in the company of childhood friends and a supportive family. Without football, he would blend into the background.

Bale, the brand, is ingot-hot. It is not his fault that an obscene price has been placed on his services. The market is feverish and requires fresh meat of the highest quality. He has the right to resist being regarded as part of Tottenham's fixtures and fittings.

He's no innocent; players in his position never are. Convention merely demands his ambition is ambiguous until the money is down. The artful notion that he has reconnected with the child who once wore a Madrid shirt is not entirely convincing, but he, and those around him, have operated with a different degree of dignity to that of Luis Suarez and his learned friends.

The Uruguayan is no George Eastham fighting the tyranny of football's maximum wage. He is no Jackie Robinson dismantling baseball's colour bar. He has few redeeming features, other than an instinctive ability to score goals.

Yet the Liverpool to which he is brazenly ungrateful is not the Liverpool of Shankly, an institution based upon socialist principles, communal pride and a deep yearning for recognition. It is a mid-ranking business with expansionist ambitions.

The modern footballer is internet hit fodder. He is as much a caricature as a fading actress with a "toned bikini body" who just happens to be caught on the beach by a passing paparazzo, or a Z list celebrity whose "wardrobe malfunction" goes viral.

Transfer speculation is sport's soft porn, a guilty secret which is insidious, universal and a means to an end. It may consist of the promulgation of non-stories, mischief making and uneducated guesswork, but it is hugely popular. Millions share the guilty secret of a sly peek, and the plotlines are risible.

Will the shamelessness of Suarez's exit strategy from Liverpool be successful? Will Wayne Rooney's reinvention as a warrior with a poet's sensitivity lead to an equally lucrative departure from Manchester United? Will "friends" of Yaya Touré succeed in securing his return to Barcelona?

I made that last one up, by the way. But now that the notion is out there in cyberspace, someone somewhere will give it the credibility it does not deserve. There are lies, damned lies and rumours spread by adolescents who operate "in the know" Twitter accounts from their bedrooms.

No one particularly cares whether these stories are factual, reasonable or sincere. The agenda is driven by businessmen whispering into a megaphone. They know they will be heard, on an unattributable basis.

The art of the deal, which the Suarez camp appears to ignore, involves getting the message across in a strategic manner, without apparent artifice or aggression. Briefings are off the record, based on mutual trust and tend to massage the truth.

Clubs are hardly benevolent societies. If they want to get a player out, they have few scruples in indulging in emotional blackmail. Contracts are either sacred or a basis for negotiation, depending on the circumstances. Loyalty, perceived or otherwise, is used as a blunt instrument.

Bale's imminent departure to Madrid will merely accelerate the rush to franchise football. The elite clubs have no feel for, or affinity with, those wannabes in the Football League. They fail to understand the importance of community and a shared heritage.

Too many people in the game do not feel the need to care. They are transient, and will leave no trace.

Old Tiger returns – but will it last?

Reports of the demise of Tiger Woods have, apparently, been greatly exaggerated. It remains to be seen whether this is a cause for celebration.

His second-round 61 in the WGC event at Firestone sets the agenda going into the final major of the season, this week's PGA Championship at the Oak Hill Country Club in New York.

Woods is stuck on 14 major titles. The apparent inevitably of his overhauling Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 still seems as quaint and old fashioned as a Walkman.

Brilliance, in a preparatory event on a course on which he traditionally excels, proves little, apart from the authenticity of the talent which has been withered by age, injury and controversy.

He used to obliterate hope, intimidate his rivals. He was metronomic, mistake-free. Yet the questions have multiplied since he won the 2008 US Open on one leg.

Woods is a cumulative 24 shots over par for his weekend rounds in his last six majors. Consistent fallibility, in circumstances which should suit his mental strength, is ominous.

Golf has decided it needs him, warts and all. Yet the clock is ticking. It will not take much for the smile to be replaced by a sneer.

Sticky wicket

"There is a tradition of the sultry cricketer powering in from the boundary or effortlessly gliding a ball to the boundary, tousled hair blowing in the breeze, his whites signifying a purity of action — oops, I almost forgot myself. Better have a cup of tea."

Pippa Middleton on cricket, folks. No comment required.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth