By Richard Parks
Martin Jol has recounted how Mousa Dembele was sold to Tottenham immediately after he had persuaded Dimitar Berbatov to join Fulham on the proviso the Belgian was staying.
Berbatov was a player in demand in the summer of 2012 and was on the verge of joining Fiorentina at the end of August when ex-Cottagers manager Jol rang him at the airport while he waited to board flight to Florence in a bid to convince him to head to west London instead.
“I had to do a lot of talking,” Jol told the Telegraph. “He was ready to go to Fiorentina, and I had to talk him out of it.”
The former Tottenham manager recalls that Berbatov, curious but by no means convinced, had one simple question. Is Mousa Dembele staying? “Of course Dembele is staying,” Jol replied enthusiastically, knowing that his answer could make or break the deal.
Berbatov committed to joining Fulham but Tottenham then activated the £15million release clause in Dembele’s Fulham contract and he signed on 29 August, two days before the transfer window shut.
Jol joked that they were lucky the Bulgarian had not stormed out of the building once he had learned of Dembele’s departure.
Football Insider verdict:
Dembele is being widely feted as the outstanding central midfielder in the Premier League, something anyone at Tottenham has been keen to tell the world has been blindingly obvious to them for years. The Belgian’s lack of goals and assists has led to a lack of appreciation of his superlative talents outside of the club, but he brought his unique ability to a wide audience when he delivered a fourth consecutive masterclass in Turin last week, following similar monster displays against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. Now everyone knows what the Spurs faithful do, Dembele is the player who really makes the team tick.
In other Tottenham news, it can be exclusively revealed that a centre-back has agreed contract terms with Spurs.