Tottenham Hotspur are resigned to losing both Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane after complaining to the Premier League that the strikers had been tapped up by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively and were now a "negative influence" in the dressing room who lacked commitment.
In an extraordinary move the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy issued a statement last night condemning the behaviour of both Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez but admitting that both players had "had their heads turned" and had made it clear to the club that they wanted to leave. Privately Spurs are insisting that they receive £30m for Berbatov and at least £20m for Keane.
Levy said: "Today's public comments by Manchester United's manager, announcing that he has made an offer for Dimitar and is confident that the deal will go through with time working in their favour, is a blatant example of sheer arrogance and interference with one of our players.
"It is also probably one of the worst offences by any manager in the Premier League to date and is unbelievably hypocritical given his recent comments in respect of Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid. This comes after a series of events, dating back to last summer, which have shown Manchester United to be in breach of Premier League rules."
Levy said Spurs had lodged an official complaint and revealed that a similar call had been made to the Premier League about Keane following comments from Benitez about the club's vice-captain.
"The behaviour of both clubs has been disgraceful," Levy added. "We told both clubs very early on that we had no interest in selling Robbie or Dimitar, respectively, and that they should refrain from pursuing the player. Both clubs arrogantly chose to ignore this request and we now have evidence that both clubs have systematically been working to prise the players away from us, outside of PL [Premier League] rules of conduct.
"Our subsequent position has been severely compromised by both clubs making their intentions widely known and indeed making contact with the players and their agents, without the club's permission. I have absolutely no wish to sell either player and to date we have not accepted any offer for either.
"However, when a player's head is turned and their commitment is absent, particularly when they occupy key positions such as that of striker, they become a negative influence in a team dressing room in which they were once a positive addition and influence.
"This is the situation we now have on our hands, with both Dimitar and Robbie having made it clear that they wish to leave for Manchester Utd and Liverpool respectively.
Despite Levy's strong stance and the fact that they will probably secure the fees they are after, the announcement is a severe blow to Spurs especially as they have continued to show ambition with signings including Luka Modric. To lose both Keane and Berbatov is a blow to the coach Juande Ramos although the Spaniard has made clear he was happy to sell one striker.
Last night a United spokesman said : "We are aware of the allegation and we will co-operate with the Premier League as necessary." United are aware that they are the only feasible bidders for Berbatov, and the Bulgarian wants to join them, while Keane has made no secret of his allegiance to Liverpool.Reuse content