David Bentley has made no secret of his desire to emulate the career of his hero David Beckham and while Tottenham Hotspur's new £17m winger may have the matching "DB" initials, he has not secured the trademark No 7 shirt. Having requested the number when he arrived at Spurs on Wednesday, he was told that Aaron Lennon, his rival for the right-wing position, had bagged it a couple of days earlier.
Bentley, who was presented as a Spurs player yesterday, has cultivated his public image as carefully as Beckham, and the No 7 shirt at Spurs was intended to be part of the package. He was dismayed to learn that Lennon was given the number, previously worn by full-back Paul Stalteri, by manager Juande Ramos over the weekend and wore it in the friendly against Leyton Orient on Wednesday. Bentley has agreed to settle for No 5.
It was first round to the kid from Leeds, who is a direct competitor with Bentley for a place at Spurs and in the England team where both have aspirations of succeeding Beckham. In the last two seasons injury has meant Lennon has struggled to recapture the form he showed before and during the 2006 World Cup, although he has shone for Spurs in pre-season so far. Lennon should start in the friendly game in the Netherlands this evening against Celtic.
While Bentley, 23, played on his Tottenham roots at his introduction as a Spurs player yesterday, the club were giving their clearest affirmation yet that transfer target Andrei Arshavin wants to leave Zenit St Petersburg. The Russia international was outspoken in an interview in which he outlined his desire to play abroad and his distrust of Russian coaches. Spurs are not nearly as close to sealing a deal for the £20m-plus 27-year-old, who said that he would "gladly" join Arsenal or Chelsea but did not mention their less celebrated London neighbour.
"I want to leave Zenit," Arshavin told Newsweek magazine. "I raised this question even before Euro 2008. My only wish is to play in a stronger club. If Zenit agrees with Chelsea or Arsenal, I will gladly join either of them. The failure of the transfer to Barcelona has upset me but I am trying to be philosophical.
"I am perfectly aware of Zenit's position: the offer [£12m] was really too small. It is strange that my good playing at Euro 2008 should have hurt my chances: my price jumped and my dream will perhaps remain a dream.
"I don't care who I work with at Zenit as long as he is not a Russian coach, who wouldn't have a chance here anyway," he added. "All this: 'Where have you been?', 'Why didn't you tell me in advance?' This army monotony: routine, lights out, reveille – Zenit wouldn't stand all that rubbish. We are a different kind of team, more democratic and modern."
Arshavin is not only being offered at a prohibitive transfer price by Zenit but Spurs have found it difficult to find out exactly who they should be dealing with to secure the player. There have been similar problems with another target, Roman Pavlyuchenko at Spartak Moscow. Tottenham hope that the immediacy of the transfer deadline this month will bring some clarity and both Russian clubs to the table.
In the meantime, Bentley, who came through Arsenal's youth system to make nine appearances for the first team, was busy playing down his connections with his former club. As his father was in the RAF, he moved around as a child but eventually settled in the Spurs-supporting London hinterland of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. "This means the world to me, because Spurs were the first club I used to watch as a kid," Bentley said. "Gazza was my favourite player when I was growing up. The first shirt I ever got was a Tottenham one with his name on the back.
"Some of my mates are Tottenham fans and season ticket-holders, and they've all got Tottenham tattoos. They always used to say – 'You've got to come to Tottenham', and I would say 'I want to but they don't want me'. As soon as I knew they [Tottenham] were interested in me, there was nowhere else I wanted to go. I grew up through the Arsenal youth team but it's not a problem for me, all my heart is at Tottenham."
Premier moves: The summer's big deals
Robbie Keane (Tottenham) to Liverpool £20.3m
David Bentley (Blackburn) to Tottenham £17m
Jose Bosingwa (Porto) to Chelsea £16.2m
Sulley Muntari (Portsmouth) to Internazionale £12.7m
Alexander Hleb (Arsenal) to Barcelona £11.8
Peter Crouch (Liverpool) to Portsmouth £9m
Dave Kitson (Reading) to Stoke £5.5m
Valon Behrami (Lazio) to West Ham £5m
Steve Sidwell (Chelsea) to Aston Villa £5m
Patrice Muamba (Birmingham) to Bolton £5m
Giovani dos Santos (Barcelona) to Tottenham £4.7m
John Arne Riise (Liverpool) to Roma £4m
Didier Digard (Paris St-Germain) to Middlesbrough £4m
Paul Robinson (Tottenham) to Blackburn £3.5m
Lee Cattermole (Middlesbrough) to Wigan £3.5m
Scott Carson (Liverpool) to West Bromwich £3.25m
Marvin Emnes (Sparta Rotterdam) to Middlesbrough £3.2m
Luke Moore (Aston Villa) to West Bromwich £3m
Seyi Olofinjana (Wolves) to Stoke City £3m
David Rozehnal (Newcastle) to Lazio £2.9m
Olivier Kapo (Birmingham) to Wigan £2.5m
Roman Bednar (Hearts) to West Bromwich £2.3mReuse content