Real Madrid star’s comments suggest Arsenal & Chelsea rule London, not Tottenham

Angel Di Maria

Angel di Maria claims that it ‘hurt’ him to be linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur last summer, and it is not hard to see why.

Tottenham Hotspur have been there or thereabouts, just not exactly there yet. For the last 10 or so years, Spurs have been doing their best to break into the top four of the Premier League.

The North London outfit actually did finish fourth twice: in 2009-10 and then again in 2011-12. Yet, they have failed to really establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Managers have come and gone, and still Spurs have been unable to cement themselves as one of the big guns in the English top flight. As a matter of fact, they are not even the top two clubs in one of the world’s biggest cities: Arsenal and Chelsea are the top dogs in London, Spurs an also-run.

Angel di Maria’s latest comments prove just that, and also that when it comes to the Premier League, outside the top five, there is not a single club where a genuinely world-class footballer would go willingly. And when it comes to London, Arsenal and Chelsea will always be their first choices.

This is what Di Maria, who was a key player in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph this season, told Marca about reports linking him with a move to Spurs last summer: ‘It hurts when you’re always doing your best for your club and then you hear that you might be going to Tottenham. I spoke with the manager last summer. I wanted to stay and he wanted me to stay as well. He told me that he counted on me and it was up to me from then on’.

Last summer, both Di Maria and Mesut Ozil were said to have been transfer-listed by Madrid. The latter moved to Arsenal on deadline day as it was made clear to him that he was going to spend most of his time on the bench, while the former stayed on despite the arrival of Gareth Bale from, of all clubs, Tottenham. The Argentina international winger was not guaranteed playing time, but over the course of the 2013-14 campaign, he emerged as an indispensable player for coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Ozil was happy to move to Arsenal, a London club who have lofty ambitions and where he has the prospect of winning trophies. Can one genuinely envisage one of the world’s best creative midfielders leaving Madrid to move to Tottenham despite the assurances of regular football? If not Arsenal, Ozil would have moved to Chelsea if given the option to join another London club. But Tottenham? No.

Back in the summer of 2008, Giovani dos Santos left Barcelona for Tottenham. He claimed that it was a “dream” move for him, but nobody believed him. After all, it would have been a dream if he were moving in the opposite direction.

True, Spurs are a big club in their own rights and have big ambitions of their own, but for one reason or the other, they have faltered over the years. The likes of Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris are genuinely brilliant players, but would it come as a big surprise if they leave White Hart Lane for a bigger club, maybe even make the switch across London?

The cold, harsh truth is that for ambitious players, Tottenham are a stepping stone. Spurs can provide all the niceties that London has to offer, but they cannot give what top-class players truly want: success. They are not a club that players all over the world grow up dreaming to play for.

When it comes to London and football, Arsenal and Chelsea are the clubs that rule the roost.

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