Tottenham are just using Riyad Mahrez as leverage
The timing of recent reports linking Tottenham with interest in Riyad Mahrez are suspicious at best. It’s no coincidence that Spurs have allegedly reached out to Leicester after hearing of other Premier League club’s interest in Ross Barkley.
The stories claiming that Spurs want to be kept abreast of any developments on Mahrez’s status with the Foxes are designed to do two things. First, Daniel Levy would like to pacify the hordes of Spurs fans that are desperate for the club to make a summer signing. Tottenham are the only Premier League club who’ve yet to make any addition during the current transfer window. That has thousands of Spurs fans crucifying Levy via social media.
I suppose I can understand Levy’s logic there. It can’t be any fun to be hated by your own fan base. In fairness, he’s done an excellent job in charge of the club. Nonetheless, his miserly transfer dealings routinely draw the ire of Tottenham supporters around the globe. Leaking the club’s interest in Riyad Mahrez at least serves as a nice distraction for those fans.
Pacifying the fan base isn’t the most important objective of the reports though. Levy’s main motivation is to continue to heap pressure on Everton as it relates to Ross Barkley. It’s pretty clear the English midfielder is Mauricio Pochettino’s top summer target. He may not be a popular player among fans, but Pochettino’s opinion is much more important.
As you’ll recall, Everton also began the summer asking Spurs for £50 million for Barkley’s services. That is, of course, a ludicrous amount. Barkley’s a talented lad, but he is not a world-class star. There’s also the stark reality that he only has one year left on his current deal with the Toffees. Ronald Koeman and company don’t have the leverage to command that sort of fee.
They do, however, continue to look for a minimum of £30 million. That’s a much more reasonable request, but it’s still more than Tottenham wish to pay. At the moment, Spurs are doing whatever they can to convince Everton to drop their demands. The best way to do that is to introduce another possible signing into the public consciousness.
Mahrez is the perfect threat. He’s a proven Premier League commodity who has the offensive upside to excite even the most cynical football fan. He suffered a disappointing campaign for Leicester last year, but then again, so did everyone else. His arrival in North London to play for Spurs would give Pochettino’s squad a huge boost.
At least that’s the idea Spurs brass are trying to put out there. The reality is that Barkley remains their number one target in the attacking midfield. Leaking interest in Mahrez is a nice story, but it’s just the means to an end. That end, is convincing Everton to part with Ross Barkley for a transfer fee much closer to £20 million. Time will tell if the gambit works for Levy and company.