It might just be because – actually, scratch that, it absolute is because – absolutely nothing else is actually happening, but Radu Dragusin’s move to Tottenham is one of our very favourite transfers ever.
Having established that the main reason is the lack of anything else actually happening – oh, what’s that, Kylian? You still haven’t decided where you may deign to do your footballings next season? That’s nice, do let us know when you finally decide – we’ve decided to try and get down five reasons why it tickles us.
Spurs doing their business early
On the face of it, it’s not even the funniest transfer Spurs have done this month. Which is in itself funny for two reasons. One, the presence of the Timo Werner deal in and of itself, a transfer that contains a whole banterverse of possibility, at the top of which sits the fact we’ve said out loud in public for people to hear that we think it might actually go quite well.
But also the very fact of there being two Tottenham transfers completed not just in January but before their first Premier League game of 2024. Spurs absolutely never do this, famously preferring to do their work in the very final seconds of the month or even in February if they can possibly get away with it. Look, when players like Ryan Nelsen become available, sometimes it’s worth bending the rules a little bit.
None of that this time around, with Spurs addressing perhaps the two most conspicuous of the many gaping holes in their ramshackle squad with what is, by their standards, absurd alacrity. Spurs being the first Premier League club to sign a player for money in any transfer window is a thing of wonder.
The great Bayern Munich bidding war
Many layers of fun to this part of it all. First, the simple fact that the biggest actual real transfer story in the first fortnight of the window involved Spurs and somehow Bayern Actual Munich getting embroiled in a bidding war for a back-up centre-back almost nobody outside football nerd-dom had even heard of two weeks ago.
Then there is the recent history between the two clubs. Spurs fans can quite rightly enjoy getting one over on Bayern here, but we’re not quite sure the signing of a reasonably obscure Romanian centre-back quite squares the ledger for Bayern signing Spurs’ greatest ever player.
But Bayern Munich’s next target on their centre-back shopping list turning out to be Eric Dier means that things probably are now at least all-square. It’s baffling from Bayern really, given that Spurs wanted/needed Dragusin precisely because Dier lacks the requisite skillset they were looking for in a centre-half.
It’s not entirely insane that Bayern see Dier as a viable short-term option given his vast experience and the conspicuous presence of a long-time friend and colleague in the Bayern squad; but it is mad that he is the second choice in a world where Dragusin is the first.
Chuck in the fact that Bayern were reportedly offering to double Dragusin’s Spurs wages and he still turned them down and you really are into the world of the bizarre. Easy for Spurs fans to crow about that, but do you really want a player that daft? Something to think about. It also leads us into point three…
Dragusin’s publicity-seeking agent
He’s the start of the show. Everyone loves a comedy agent, and again, nobody knows more about this subject than Spurs fans after the comedy stylings in recent years of Charlie Kane, a man who makes up for having no major clients from outside his immediately family by having a motorbike in his very important big boy’s office. Do you have a motorbike in your office? Exactly.
Dragusin’s agent is a very different type of character to dear old Charlie. But he might be better. Less broad as a comedy vehicle, but in many ways funnier for that. He loves to talk for one thing, and that’s great. He’s had lots to say about Bayern, obviously, and has today busied himself touting his boy to Real Madrid and Barcelona before the ink is even dry on his Tottenham contract. And we all lap it up because there’s simply nothing else happening.
We’re backing our boy to still hit the heights even when there is other stuff going on. Admittedly he won’t always sit at the middle of a maelstrom where he finds himself getting a payday that would have delighted him three weeks ago but now sees him looking forlornly towards Munich like it’s a Bullseye speedboat. No wonder his mind’s blown.
The Paratici influence
Fabio Paratici, you remember him. He was the Spurs director of football they tried very hard not to get rid of even after he was banned from all football activity for his role in Juventus’ assorted antics. It seemed mad at the time.
It’s worth noting this was a time that coincided with Spurs being at their very lowest ebb towards the end of last season (his departure eventually came in the same week as the 6-1 at Newcastle) but it also seemed absurd that Spurs were trashing their reputation to keep hold of a fella whose record for them had been spotty at best.
Inevitably at that time, the focus was mainly on his role in bringing Antonio Conte to the club, which had at that stage gone demonstrably tits up, but even on the playing side he was getting at best a middling passing grade. The subsequent eight months have been far kinder to Paratici and seen his reputation almost entirely restored thanks to more of his signings such as Pape Sarr and Destiny Udogie starting to bear fruit.
Far from being the idiot crook responsible for Nuno and Conte he’s now the visionary credited with bringing Pape Sarr, Destiny Udogie, Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur to the club for a combined total fee that would, conservatively, be about half what that lot would now be worth. Throw in his obvious involvement in the recruitment of Guglielmo Vicario – at this stage surely the best value signing by anyone last summer – and his long-term championing of the James Maddison move, and he’s gone from Conte-backing dodgepot to some kind of transfer whisperer who can do no wrong.
What’s really funny here is that he can’t work directly for Spurs, so does so on a consultancy basis. And that run of transfer successes at the kind of prices Daniel Levy likes means he clearly has the ear of the chairman and now also the new manager and sporting director. By sheer fluke and through an at times mortifyingly embarrassing process, Spurs have actually ended up with a pretty much perfect transfer structure after years and years of it being a complete mess.
And Paratici’s fingerprints are clearly all over this one. He’s the fourth Juventus flop Spurs have signed. He’s not even the first Juventus flop centre-back they’ve signed. He’s not even the first Juventus flop centre-back sent to Genoa on loan they’ve signed. And the other three have all turned out to be excellent, if in at least one case quite terrifyingly insane. Spurs aren’t even pretending Paratici isn’t pulling at least some of the strings after his ban, and that is also funny.
And if you want proof that Spurs’ set-up is better now than it was when Paratici was in sole charge then consider the fact that if he still had his own way about everything their manager would currently be Luis Enrique.
Fabrizio Romano staking his reputation on such small beer
You don’t have to like Fabrizio Romano’s outsized importance in modern football transfer discourse, but you do have to – grudgingly or otherwise – acknowledge and admire that he has put himself right there, front and centre of it all.
And the transfer he chose to stake it all on this month is something as small-time as this one. Fair play, he was right, sticking with Spurs even as others talked of Napoli, Milan and eventually and most ominously Bayern. Seems a heck of a gamble, though, even if there was literally nothing else occurring.
Although maybe the great man has merely outflanked us all again here. Maybe it’s genius. This is a relatively low-key transfer in the grand scheme, but one that is currently getting vast attention due to the lack of anything else to compete with it. Maybe that’s the perfect time to go all in. If you’re right, people will notice. If you’re wrong, well, never mind because this is a transfer they’ll all have forgotten about anyway by the time a hacked BBC journalist goes all sweary at Liverpool.