Saido Berahino: Tottenham chairman defends pursuit of West Brom striker – insists it was nothing 'personal'

Daniel Levy said the repeated approaches for the player was simply his and Tottenham's customary 'pragmatic player trading'

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The recriminations between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion over the Saido Berahino saga continued this evening with a rare public statement from Spurs chairman Daniel Levy who claimed that his club had done nothing wrong in pursuing the player.

Levy went on the offensive over a number of allegations and insinuations that have been made about Spurs’ conduct, chiefly by his opposite number at West Brom, Jeremy Peace. It is debatable whether Levy who has infuriated many of his Premier League peers over the year with his uncompromising negotiating style will assuage Peace with his observation that it was nothing “personal”. 

Instead, Levy said the approach to signing Berahino was simply his and Spurs’ customary “pragmatic player trading” and that he made “no apologies for bring ambitious for the club”. It was a direct response to Peace’s trenchant criticism of Spurs’ part in what he described as an “unfortunate episode” in which they had tried to sign Berahino “cheaply”.

For his part, Berahino, who tweeted on Tuesday that he would not play for Peace’s club again, had been given a few days off by West Brom and told to come back next week when he is feeling better disposed to playing. The club have not ruled out disciplinary action although the mood is to try to repair the relationship.

Tottenham sources have been clear that the offer for Berahino was £25m which would have been paid in stages over the next five years. West Brom understood the deal as totalling a maximum of £22.5m comprising three £6.5m payments and the rest performance-related, linked to appearances made and Spurs’ league positions.

It is understood that Peace felt particularly upset by what he regarded as derisory incremental rises made by Spurs in their fourth and final offer for the player, just £1.5m more than their second had been. As for the staggering of payments, Levy said that “there is hardly a transfer concluded across Europe which doesn’t include staged payments.”

The Spurs chairman has alienated many over the years, particularly Southampton in this window over the pursuit of Victor Wanyama. He seemed keen to point out that his negotiating style was, in his words, not “personal”. Levy said: “None of the proposals, discussions or negotiations we undertake involve any personal elements or ego - everything we do is in the interest of what is best for our club.”

There was also a rebuttal by Levy that the club leaked news of Berahino’s transfer request. “We never make anything public, particularly in the best interests of the players involved,” he said. “Making aspects such as transfer requests public is wholly disrespectful to a player.

The statement on the Spurs website included occasional contributions from manager Mauricio Pochettino aimed at explaining the rationale behind his summer player trading, a low-key process that has left the club with Harry Kane as only their recognised centre-forward. Pochettino contested that point, arguing that new signings Clinton Njie and Heung-Min Son were not incapable of playing Kane’s role.

Pochettino said: “Much has been said about us only having one recognised striker in Harry - I don’t accept this at all. The positional play of today’s forwards means it’s too simplistic to look for goals from any one position. Playing a fluid style means players switch. Also we secured Sonny and Clinton in the knowledge that we may not be adding any other forward.”

Levy pointed out that the club had moved on eight players over the summer although they have been unsuccessful in persuading Emmanuel Adebayor to come to a settlement on his contract and the Togo striker now seems destined to stay until January at the very least.