Pitchside Europe

Tottenham and Real Madrid: A most one-sided ‘partnership’

The proposed loan move of Alvaro Morata to Arsenal is the latest insult in what is proving to be a very one-sided ‘special relationship’ between Tottenham and Real Madrid.

Striker Morata, 21, is a fringe player at Real but is highly rated enough to have won a dozen U21 caps for a junior national side that would beat most senior outfits.

Having come through the youth set-up at his hometown club, Morata is expected to sign a six-month loan deal at Arsenal, where he will play back-up to Olivier Giroud.

On the surface of things it is a deal that suits both parties, although it remains to be seen if he will earn many more starts at the Emirates, where Giroud is in fantastic form and Theo Walcott is returning from injury.

However it is another infuriating episode in the tragi-comedy that is Real’s so-called ‘strategic partnership’ with Spurs.

This purported relationship was unveiled after Real completed their long-running chase of Croatia playmaker Luka Modric, who moved to the Bernabeu from Spurs in the summer of 2012.

That transfer saga irritated Spurs, who had to fend off relatively low bids accompanied by Real’s classic tapping-up strategy, employed whenever a high-profile player is targeted.

So the announcement of a formal affiliation softened the blow of Modric’s exit, with Spurs fans led to believe their club would get first option on loans and other outgoing transfers.

But what exactly did this ‘partnership’ entail? In announcing the deal, Spurs said it was regarding cooperation "in respect of players, coaching, best practices and commercial relationships".

No more detail was given. Seems pretty unspecific to me.

One year later, in the days following the Bale and Ozil transfers, Spurs fans had launched a petition demanding the relationship be ended. And now, less than 18 months after the deal was signed, things have managed to get worse.

Rather predictably, much of Spurs’ ire revolves around the protracted and painful exit of Gareth Bale, who eventually joined Madrid for something in the region of £86 million, depending on who you believe.

Bale, Spurs’ best player and probably the stand-out attacker in English football for two seasons prior to his departure, was promised the world and rather publicly courted by a shameless Real, from club president down to reserve left-back.

Granted, Spurs got good money for the Wales winger, but the whole affair left a sour taste in the mouth, one which still lingers as the North London club struggle to find their feet with their new-look team.

Salt was rubbed into the wounds within hours of Bale’s transfer, as Real Madrid recouped some of the money by selling Mesut Ozil to Spurs’ biggest rivals Arsenal.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was reportedly furious with Real counterpart Florentino Perez, furious because Spurs were not even notified of the deal, let alone given the first option their partner status may well entail.

Levy was allegedly angered that Perez apparently kept the deal a total secret until after the Bale capture was completed, that his team was weakened and that of his rivals’ strengthened in a single motion.

That prompted Spurs fans to make their initial complaint – and the evidence appears to justify their anger.

Even feeder clubs get more than Spurs from this relationship – at least they get to loan the parent club’s best youngsters. So far not one Real Madrid player has moved to Spurs in any capacity – the closest to that has been misfiring striker Roberto Soldado, a product of Real’s youth system but bought from Valencia.

In addition to Ozil’s move to Arsenal, Nuri Sahin joined Dortmund on loan this summer, Kaka returned to Milan, while Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol all moved to Napoli.

That so many of these deals bypassed Spurs hints that this ‘strategic partnership’ has no legal basis, or that certainly it is very flexible. Otherwise surely Spurs would be due punitive compensation for any transfer they do not authorise? Clearly there is no firm first option.

If Morata does sign for Arsenal it will be Perez’s final ‘up-yours’ to Levy. Perhaps the Bale money was deemed sufficient a sweetener by Real. Certainly it all seems rather one-way.

On Twitter @Reda_Eurosport