Gareth Bale put Spurs under ‘intense’ pressure, but other Premier League stars aren’t getting their way

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This morning Tottenham Hotspur manger Andre Villas-Boas has revealed some of the things that went on behind the scenes at Spurs all summer.

And it wasn’t that pretty.

Despite wishing his former star player Gareth Bale all the best as he swapped Tottenham for Real Madrid in a record breaking transfer last weekend, AVB has suggested that the 24-year-old Welsh international put the London club under intense pressure to make his dream move a reality.

“The pressure we were subjected to by the player has been intense,” Villas-Boas said to the media after attending a coaching summit at UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland. “The influence of Real Madrid has been very big and you get to a point where you have to consider if it’s feasible not to accept an offer and whether you can press on with a player in that state of mind.”

(MORE: Gareth Bale discusses “very stressful” transfer saga)

But despite the pressure Bale piled on Tottenham to get the deal done, AVB accepted that Real Madrid’s new attacker ultimately had the right to decide his future.

“Obviously, we should be happy with the transfer fee that was paid,” Villas-Boas said. “Players want to win championships and I believe that with Gareth that is within reach. At the end of the day, it’s up to a player to decide if he wants to stay or wants to go.”

The Portuguese manager is right, Bale does have a choice.

Yet this summer has seen the choice of the player in a potential move become more and more complicated, compared to the past. We won’t take this ‘player power struggle’ all the way back to the famous Jean-Marc Bosman ruling back in 1995 — a landmark victory for players as they were given the power to decide which club they would sign for when a contract ended with their current side — but with the transfer saga’s of Bale, Luis Suárez and Wayne Rooney dominating the summer, the players have been put in their place.

(MORE: Liverpool’s American owner says Luis Suárez is not for sale, Uruguayan wants out)

Back in ’95 the Bosman ruling allowed players to move freely after their contract had ended, but Bale, Suárez and Rooney all wanted early exits despite being under contract at Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United respectively. Over the past few years the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka all wanted moves away from their clubs whilst under contract and they got their wish.

However the summer of 2013 marked a period when the clubs fought back. They were sick and tired of being dictated to by players.

Manchester United decided they wanted Rooney to stay and Liverpool likewise with Suárez. And it’s not just in England, look over to the Bundesliga in Germany where Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski demanded a move for Bayern Munich…. only for Dortmund to block the move. That stance cost Dortmund a transfer fee as Lewandowski can leave for nothing next May.

In the end Gareth Bale got his way. But the clubs are fighting back.

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.