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Tabloids can’t resist linking Tottenham’s Bale to Barcelona. Again.

This was inevitable after the performance Gareth Bale turned in against Norwich on Tuesday night. It’s as if, in tabloid world, the Sporting Directors of Europe’s elite clubs tune in to games and suddenly decide – ‘oh, he’s a bit good isn’t he’.

It doesn’t work like that.

Still, according to the Mirror:

Barcelona have made Gareth Bale their No.1 target next summer – but set a £25m price limit.

Coach Pep Guardiola thrashed out a hitlist with director Andoni Zubizarreta for new left-sided players, which also includes Valencia’s Spain international Jordi Alba and AC Milan’s Thiago Silva.

But Bale, 22, is the top priority and it is Guardiola who insisted the Spurs flier is the player he most wants.

Barcelona are also preparing a player plus cash deal with £20m and a range of younger players on offer to Spurs.

No quotes from anyone, not even the old ‘reports in the Spanish media’ chestnut? And not to be pedantic, but Thiago Silva is actually a centre-back – so he probably doesn’t appear on this fictitious list of ‘left-sided’ players.

It’s not the best bit of journalism is it? If you’re going to create stories for the sake of inducing internet traffic, at least make the figures believable – given how stubborn Daniel Levy proved to be over Luka Modric, I don’t think he would entertain anything less than £50m for Bale.

Unless that ‘range of young players’ includes Andres Iniesta, Leo Messi and Gerard Pique, of course.

Tottenham – 2009 & 2010 Highlights

For the other side of North London, who were apparently feeling left out after last night’s Robin Van Persie post…

Highlights from 2009 and 2010, Premier League to Champions League. Music by Mumford & Sons and White Lies.

Tottenham to beat Swansea? 7/10 with Paddy Power.

Barcelona launch public pursuit of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale

If you are ‘mas que un club’ then why don’t you behave like it?

I’m so bored of the self-righteousness with which Barcelona do just about everything, it’s becoming a cloud over all the undoubtedly beneficial qualities that they bring to the game.

Last Summer, and the year before, their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas was wholly unacceptable – Barca players on Twitter and in the press, club officials, Pep Guardiola; all publicly commenting on what was, at the time, another team’s player.

It’s hard to believe that UEFA/FIFA would tolerate such a flagrant disregard for the transfer rules from another club – certainly, if it was an English club behaving like this then Michel Platini wouldn’t be able to get the rulebook out quick enough.

So, another season and the potential genesis of another transfer saga borefest – this time over Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.

Barcelona President Sandro Rosell:

“Is Bale of interest to us? I won’t say and even if it was true I wouldn’t talk about it because that would automatically increase the price. Spurs wouldn’t demand 40m Euros but 50m. It is up to our technical staff to decide on the player. But we would never pay €40m for him.”

How dare they? Really, a club not fitting in with Barcelona’s valuation of a player? Outrageous. One thing Sandro; it’s not actually just up to your ‘technical staff’, the player belongs to another club, so they also have a little bit of a say over his price. Obviously I appreciate that that causes an inconvenient clash with Barcelona’s sense of entitlement and general level of arrogance, but still.

No doubt we’ll be hearing from Xavi et al about ‘how well Bale would fit in at Camp Nou’ over the coming months, so that’s something to look forward to.

Yes they play beautiful football, yes they’ve got a team stacked full of world-class players, but can we look beyond that now and realise what a pain in the arse Barcelona are becoming?

Want money-back specials and fallers insurance? Then you should be betting with Paddy Power.

Gareth Bale in the Great Britain Olympic Football Shirt

The Welsh FA are going to absolutely love this…

The Sun embellishing on some Gareth Bale quotes

‘Gareth Bale: Arsenal Should Have Kept Star Names!’ – ‘Bale in dig at Gunners’.

Really? What did he say? Did he make comparisons between the sale of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas and Tottenham’s refusal to budge of Luka Mordric? Did he accuse Arsene Wenger of turning Arsenal into a selling club?

No? But look at the headline, whatever he said must have been fairly damning surely?

Um…no…

“Arsenal have lost a few players, which makes them more beatable I think as that has damaged the way they play.

We exposed that. I think keeping your best players is a massive thing.

They are used to how you play and what you do. It is vitally important to do that and build your team around them.

It is important that we have Modric and Arsenal were unlucky not to keep theirs.

They are still a great team. They haven’t had the best of starts but I am sure they will improve.

They have a lot of young players who are going to grow up in the next season or two and learn a lot. I am sure they will be fine.”

Yeah, that was savage.

Why can the tabloids not just report information? Why must everything be artificially inflated by salaciousness?

Nasri to Inter/Berbatov to Spurs – more Caught Offside rumours.

Another day, another completely untrue rumour on the Caught Offside blog – this time Samir Nasri is supposedly on his way to Inter Milan for £31 million. Why £31m and not £30m or £35m? Probably because more precise numbers lend a bit more gravitas to something lacking in foundation.

In their defence, CO have been fairly creative today with their lying – they also have yet another ‘Gareth Bale to Manchester United’ story, only this time it involves Dimitar Berbatov(!) returning to White Hart Lane in part-exchange. You have to hand it to them, it takes balls to publish something like that without using ironic quote marks. Presumably that deal will follow Luka Modric signing for Newcastle in a swap-deal involving Sol Campbell and the deed to St James’ Park.

As trustworthy as The News of The World. Such toss that we’re not even going to include a picture.

Tottenham’s Sandro falsely linked to Inter – lots of lies.

A common phenomenon in the media is, following a good game by a player on a relatively big stage, to link that player with a cluster of continentally renowned clubs.

So, it’s with a groan of inevitability that we saw TalkSport link Brazilian holding-midfielder Sandro with a move to Inter Milan this morning. The logic for this, not that you really need us to tell you, is that ‘he played well against AC Milan – who share a stadium with Inter – so therefore a summer move to Italy is inevitable.’

Naturally no quotes, facts, or comment of any nature appears alongside this ‘article’. Probably don’t go sprinting down to the bookies to put money on that one.

Given the consistency of this trend, we are however willing to bet a substantial amount that some kind of ‘Jack Wilshere to Barcelona’ rumour appears in a tabloid in the next couple of days.

‘Take one promising British player, add in a very famous and wealthy club that has recently been beaten by the player’s parent team, and chuck in an unrealistic transfer-fee. End result? A couple of weeks of artificial speculation.’

For examples of this, please see ‘Bale, Gareth’.

Tottenham 1 – 0 Fulham [Goals]

Apologies for the quality, but highlights from this afternoon’s game at White Hart Lane are on the link below…

http://www.footytube.com/v/NjkxMDY=

5 things we’ve learnt

Liverpool have work to do…

Beating Chelsea at home is not an acid test for any football team. The players are up for it, the crowd is even more so – it’s an artificial reality. Take three Pepe Reina saves out of the game, and Chelsea may well have headed back to London with more than just a sense of frustration.
On Wednesday night, Liverpool will travel to the DW Stadium and face an improving Wigan – the same fixture in which last year the away side were abjectly poor in defeat. The reality for Roy Hodgson is this; beat the marquee teams in the league and he’ll extend his honeymoon period with John Henry, but fail to perform against the league’s also-rans and his Anfield life-expectancy will plummet dramatically. A feature of his predecessor’s reign at the club was his ability to take points of the top teams home and away, but drop them again in routine games. Hodgson will do well to ensure that the playing intensity from yesterday afternoon is just as visible in those less glamorous, non-televised fixtures that really make or break a season.

West Ham were the unluckiest team of the weekend

For two reasons; Ben Foster and the referee. Winning at St Andrews, despite Birmingham’s current lack of form, is a difficult task for any team. West Ham played well-enough to earn three points, that they ran into a goalkeeper who made a string of outstanding saves, and a referee without the strength to give a clear penalty in their favour, is a stinging slap in the face for a team in need of points fast. It has to be said, that if Jean Beausejour’s tug on Lars Jacobsen had occurred at Old Trafford, and Jacobsen had been a Manchester United player, referee Oliver would have pointed to the penalty spot without any hesitation.
If a referee is not big enough to make decisions that are going to be unpopular with a home crowd, he shouldn’t be officiating. Week after week we see this, and it shows no sign of disappearing. Dull and predictable.

Tottenham will get nowhere near the Champions League this year.

Not if they play like they did against Bolton again. Within ninety minutes at the Reebok Stadium, the memory of the demolition of Inter Milan had faded even further, and normal Spurs performances had been resumed. What will grate Tottenham fans more than anything else, will be how predictable this defeat was. Currently, Bale, Modric, and Van der Vaart aside, the players’ attitude towards the bread and butter of the Premier League is simply not acceptable. Losses to Wigan at home, West Ham away, and Bolton away don’t lie.

Asamoah Gyan is now one of favourite players

Much as we said about Javier Hernandez a few weeks ago, it’s just so refreshing to watch a player who loves playing the game…and one who celebrates the way that he does. It’s a sign of times that such a basic attribute means so much, but so be it.

We can still be ashamed of football crowds

Minority group or not, an utterly revolting and disgusting lack of respect for those who have lost their life in conflict. Religion has no place on this blog at all, and shall never be mentioned again, but to the idiotic few; go back to Wikipedia and study the Catholic church’s history a little more carefully before embarking on a path of such embarrassing self-righteousness.

Gareth won’t bale

“Did you get the headline? Did you? Did you? Like, we used Gareth Bale’s name to imply that he’s staying – in a really, really clever way. We’re going to do that with all our headlines from now on, forever.”

Alright, enough of our tabloid alter-ego…

Good kid. The transfer window may prove us to be terribly naive, but Gareth Bale looks set to honour his contract with Tottenham – an increasing alien concept to players worldwide. Watch the full interview here.

Unfortunately, despite direct quotes from the player himself, the newspapers obviously know better:

‘Bale’s blistering display against Inter Milan stunned the football world with Real Madrid and Barcelona already talking about £50million bids.’

The Sun. Talking about?

Goal.Com also do a big, faux-exclusive piece on how Bale was only willing to sign a four year contract at Tottenham over the summer, and how Spurs have managed to negotiate out of the sell-on fee with Southampton – using lots of phrases like ‘Goal.Com understands’, and ‘we can exclusive reveal’.

It seems that the papers are already getting nervous about where their next tedious long-running transfer saga is going to come from. Nobody’s interested in actual news, are they?