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If the story about Vazquez to Arsenal is true, transfers are in real trouble

By Tony Attwood

This is a continuation of our regular update on all the players tipped to be in the pipeline for an Arsenal signing but the tale behind one of them, Lucas Vazquez, has caused a little bit of interest among those who study such matters.  And this because if the story is right, then it could be affecting the whole fabric of the transfer system.

And I say “the whole system” because if it is true in relation to Arsenal, it is going to be true in relation to many other clubs as well, and it would suggest that a large number of transfer rumours can never result in actual transfers because of “do not sell” clauses.

So here is the story…

Arsenal are said to have put in an offer worth around £31m for Lucas Vazquez of Real Madrid.  This is one of those deals that the media is getting very excited about and AS in Spain say it could be pushed through in a matter of days.  In the UK Football Talk and other blogs have also reported this tale.  Sky Sports, although an unreliable source, is a fractionally less whacky monger of rumours and they say we are engaged in talks.  Shoot among many others has carried the story adding that we are now in discussion with the player.

But – and this is the key point here – Sports Lens says that Tottenham have blocked Arsenal from making a move.  Apparently (according to the site) when Bale went to Real Mad a “do not sell anyone to Arsenal” clause was added to the contract and so Real Mad can’t sell any player to Arsenal.  There may be a time limit on the clause – we don’t know – but it could be in place for as long as Bale stays at Real Mad, or indeed for 10 years.

But let us pause and consider this issue of Tottenham putting a “no player to Arsenal” clause in a sale contract.  It would be illegal if such a deal were signed between two clubs in England, because it would be classified as a restraint of trade clause, and that cannot be done.  Indeed I suspect it is illegal under EU law – but for this illegality to be established one of the two clubs involved (Real Mad or Tottenham H) would have to come clean about the deal.  And if the contractual clause does exist, neither is ever likely to do that.

And because they rarely get found out, restraint of trade clauses are not that unusual – for there is no case to answer unless the employee (or in this case another club) makes a complaint.  And in a case like this, the players may never know.  After all it is not their contract which contains the clause, but a contract between the buying and selling club.

Yet if this is something that has happened in the deal between Real Madrid and Tottenham, there are three issues arising.  First, how would Tottenham enforce it, if Real Mad decided to sell a player to Arsenal, second how many other such deals might now exist, and third how many other clubs are indulging in this sort of thing.  In short, could it be that a lot of the deals that Arsenal try to make are met with an absolute “no”, because the selling club has already reached a “no deal with Arsenal” arrangement with Tottenham, or indeed Liverpool, Man City, Man United or Chelsea.

Indeed it could be that many of the major clubs are doing such deals.   Real Madrid could quite possibly be putting “no deal with Barcelona” clauses in many contract of players they sell on.   Chelsea might be adding “no deal with Man City or Liverpool” and so on.

It would need someone within a contract department of a club who leaves with a grudge, and then retires from football, to spill the beans.   That is going to be a difficult combination to find, and I suspect we will never know.  But to me it looks exactly like the sort of thing some clubs would do.

As to what would happen if a club signed such a contract and then broke it (for example, Real Mad having agreed the “no deals with Arsenal” clause, and then selling a player to Arsenal) it is likely that no one would reveal the clause in the contract, but simply, Tottenham H would stop even talking to Real Mad.

But the rumours go on and on.  Football 365 say we could have Vazquez by next week.  Daily Star says Monday!  Team Talk says the talks are on!!  Talk Sport says this coming week.  Team Talk, Sports Mole and Sports Report all say the talks are ongoing.  The Daily Star quoting the “outlet” ABC (a likely tale!) say everything will be revealed on Tuesday.  Sports Mole have the talks as being very advanced.

And on and on and on.   Everyone has it.  But if it doesn’t happen, well, it might just be because of that agreement between Real Mad and Tottenham.

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