Liverpool have been officially reported for ‘tapping up’ Clint Dempsey of Fulham. The public way Liverpool have gone about their interest for the American and the fact the clubs owners even declared he had signed for the club before anything near a deal had been arranged are evidence of this. But what is 'tapping up' and how often does it happen?
Well if you listen to the professionals it happens a lot. Many former players have admitted to knowing of rival interest ahead of their current employers and managers have also admitted the practice. Brian Clough stated that during his time at Nottingham Forest that he and his representatives ‘tapped up more players than the Severn-Trent water board’.
So it is nothing new but with the vast sums of money and the consequential importance some footballers are to teams the value of 'tapping up' has risen. Although not an illegal practice it is banned in the game and failure to adhere to such practice can result in serious trouble.
Recently Blackpool have also reported Southampton over their pursuit of Matty Phillips and this form of unsettling players has more than likely been used throughout the summer in numerous transfer deals without us ever knowing.
So what are some famous cases of ‘tapping up’?
Dwight Yorke - Aston Villa to Manchester United
The circumstances of Dwight Yorke’s departure from Villa Park were highly controversial and brought the issue into the modern media spotlight for the first time. Manchester United wanted the Trinidad and Tobago striker to form a quartet of strikers at the club but Aston Villa manager John Gregory made it very clear he was not for sale. But after Yorke was made aware of such admiration he handed in a transfer request and performed poorly for Villa souring his 9 year stay at the club before joining United and going on to win the treble. And what about Jaap Stam, who famously claimed Sir Alex Ferguson tapped him up from PSV the same summer in his autobiography while still at the club - and found himself hurried out of the exit door to Lazio days later.
Ashley Cole - Arsenal to Chelsea
Cole met up with senior representatives from Chelsea including Peter Kenyon and Jose Mourinho without the explicit permission of his current club Arsenal. He was fined £75,000 for the misdemeanour and Chelsea and Mourinho also received hefty punishments. However Chelsea got their man in 2006.
Ken Bates claimed Chelsea had tapped up the 2 Leeds United youngsters in 2008 and were later paid upwards of £5 million in compensation for the pair. Neither career has reached there predicted heights however with Taiwo a free agent after his release from Carlisle and Woods currently on non-contract terms with Yeovil Town.
Phillipe Mexes - Auxerre to Roma
The French international was suspended and Roma handed a transfer embargo after they agreed a transfer without any knowledge of the deal from AJ Auxerre, Phillipe's current club. Mexes settled the dispute out of court with his former team in order to be able to play in Serie A.
Gael Kakuta - RC Lens to Chelsea
Sorry Chelsea fans, I am really not picking on you. I am also not saying that Chelsea do more tapping up then other teams, but they definitely seem to get caught more. The Blues were originally handed a transfer ban and Kakuta was banned for playing after the move but both were lifted after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Liverpool could find themselves being placed under similar transfer bans or financial punishment if they are proven guilty of tapping up the American but one thing is for sure, it is most likely going on all the time the only real question is, who is getting away with it?
image: © NathanF