Schalke 04's Holtby celebrates a goal against Hannover 96 during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Gelsenkirchen

Where Lewis Holtby, Tottenham, Schalke and the economies of big-time soccer collide


What’s an early arrival worth for one genuine, card-carrying, ballyhooed prize of an incoming summer transfer?

And that what’s an early departure worth for an outgoing one?

These are the tough negotiating points between Germany’s Schalke and England’s Tottenham at the moment.

Lewis Holtby is en route from Germany to the North London club, having already signed a pre-contract and set to report to White Hart Lane during the summer transfer period. But Spurs want to spur the deal, to get it moving now rather than later.

So they have offered Schalke almost £1 million (about $1.5 million) to make it a rush job, which would see the 22-year-old midfielder move in January.

For Spurs, Holtby would provide needed cover for a thinning midfield; a knee injury will keep defensive midfielder Sandro out for perhaps the rest of the season.

Holtby is an attacking midfielder, so it would not be a this-for-that replacement, exactly. It would, however, provide Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas some options. But the German club is holding out for about double the current asking price.

Here’s why both clubs want the emerging German international: Spurs are fourth in the table, and that means a good shot at Champions League soccer next year. (Don’t forget, that’s why Clint Dempsey moved across London from Fulham in the first place, for his chance on the big UEFA stage.) Fifth-place Everton covets Spurs’ spot in the table. Liverpool and Arsenal, two teams more accustomed to landing those European spots, are right behind and desperate to keep hope alive.

The full standings EPL are here.

Schalke sits 5th in the Bundesliga table. The European placement looks similar there, with three automatic spots into Champions League and a fourth-place finisher going into qualifying for the lucrative tournament.

So the economics matter. If Spurs get Holtby early and qualify for Champions League, they could very well make back the money – even if it might be difficult to quantify Holtby’s impact. Of course, Schalke could stand to lose more than the $2 or $3 million they make if they fall out of fourth.

Where are those data-inclined kids from Freakonomics when you need them?

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?