The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp, pulled off an eleventh-hour deal yesterday, when the Premier League approved Rafael van der Vaart's move from Real Madrid despite paperwork being lodged late.
The Premier League could not confirm last night suggestions in the Netherlands that papers had reached the League two hours late but a three-man League committee accepted Spurs' claim that technical difficulties relating to a computer used in the transaction between the two clubs had hampered efforts to complete the administration in time. The League was satisfied that club-to-club negotiations between Spurs and Real had been concluded before Tuesday's 6pm cut-off, though Real disputed Redknapp's explanation of the chaotic events leading up to the £8m deal's conclusion.
Redknapp emerged from his office on Tuesday to say that a proposed £18m deal taking Van der Vaart to Bayern Munich had fallen through on deadline day, leading to Spurs being offered the player. Real's sports director Miguel Pardeza said: "It is absolutely false that Real Madrid received a €21m [£17.4m] offer from Bayern Munich for Van der Vaart. In fact, the German team never showed an interest to sign the player, so the allegations made in England have greatly surprised us."
Van der Vaart spoke about his move several hours before the Premier League committee met, illustrating that Spurs were confident they would get their man, who will be eligible to play in their first ever Champions League campaign, starting at Werder Bremen in two weeks. "Four years at Spurs, for €11m, I can hardly believe it myself," the Dutchman said. "It's a pity I cannot now play against Ajax in the Champions League but I will get to face FC Twente.
"The interest from Tottenham came very quick and I did not have much time to think. But I want to play football again and if possible every week, with a beautiful club. I'm totally happy. I am excited about playing in England. Whether it suits my style remains to be seen, but I think a good footballer can adapt and I am very proud of this transfer." It is now for Spurs to get the best out of a gifted though inconsistent player who scored only 12 goals in two seasons at the Bernabeu but who created a goalscoring chance every 31 minutes on average for Real in La Liga.
The committee, comprised of the chief executive Richard Scudamore, the chairman Sir Dave Richards and secretary Mike Foster, also discussed the late bid by West Ham United to sign the Danish right-back Lars Jacobsen from Blackburn Rovers. The fax for that deal is understood to have reached Gloucester Place at 5.58pm and the League has announced the transfer will stand.
Meanwhile, another player to have just departed Spanish football, Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, yesterday launched a fierce attack on the Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, for forcing him out of the Nou Camp. "You shouldn't blame the club and the other players I had in Barcelona for what one person did," said Ibrahimovic, referring to Guardiola. "The bad picture s should be on the philosopher."
Rafael van der Vaart
The attacking midfielder won the double with Ajax in 2001-02 and the Intertoto Cup with Hamburg in 2005.
£10.8m Amount Real Madrid paid Hamburg for him in 2008. He has won 83 caps for the Netherlands, scoring 16 goals, and played five times as the Dutch reached the 2010 World Cup final.