The master and the puppy

It’s a little bit like a little puppy faithfully following his master wherever he goes. Except in this case, the puppy is Jermain Defoe, the master Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp has now managed Defoe at three different Premier League clubs. Firstly, he was his boss at West Ham. Then, last January, while managing Portsmouth, he bought Defoe from Tottenham for £9m. And now, twelve months later, having replaced Juande Ramos as Tottenham boss, he is bringing the striker back to North London for a fee reported to be £15m.

While unusual, it’s certainly not the first time a player has left a club only to return later while still in the prime of his career. Teddy Sheringham spent seven years at Tottenham either side of a four-year stint at Manchetser United. And Ian Rush left Liverpool for Juventus in 1987, only to return – like Defoe – a year later. (Rush is famously alleged to have described his problems settling in to life in Turin as “It’s like living in a foreign country.” Classic.)

But it is surely the first time in top-level football that a manager has brought a player from Club A to Club B, only to subsequently engineer the reverse move himself.

They say in football that you should never go back. And yet the Defoe deal seems to be a win-win for both parties. Cash-strapped Portsmouth receive a much-needed financial boost; Tottenham fill a significant need (remembering that they have also sold Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane in the last six months).

As an aside, it is puzzling how Defoe’s valuation has changed so dramatically in the space of just a year; a reflection of the frequently irrational science which is football economics. After all, it is hardly as if the 26-year old was an unknown quantity before his initial move from Tottenham. And while I am sure Spurs fans are delighted to have Defoe back, they must surely be scratching their heads over whether they have just overpaid for him, whether they undersold him in the first place, or a combination of the two. Looking in from the outside, £9m last year was clearly ludicrously low for a striker – and semi-regular England international – with a strong goalscoring history. Conversely, £15m today seems like a fair fee, particularly when you consider that it was less than 18 months ago that Spurs paid £16.5m for fellow striker Darren Bent who, while two years younger, has just 4 England caps (and no goals), compared with Defoe’s 32 caps (and 6 goals).

Still, I suppose it’s no stranger than Chelsea granting Wayne Bridge a contract worth £88,000 a week (allegedly) when he was already only the second-choice left back at Stamford Bridge. At least he’ll get to run around a bit more often now he has joined Manchester City. Mind you, now that he is now reportedly earning £100,000 a week … nice work if you can get it, eh?


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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