Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson’s obvious displeasure at Gabriel Heinze’s desire to become a Liverpool player is turning into something of a sideshow to pre-season, especially when listening to his contradictory attitude towards his own move for West Ham’s Carlos Tevez.
Lawyers are dealing with both transfers now. Heinze’s transfer is being held up by Manchester United who have reneged on a deal they had with the player’s agent allowing him to be sold to any club that matched their asking price of around £6.8m. Heinze has lawyers looking at it now, ready to take the fight to court if necessary for their client. The Tevez transfer has lawyers preparing to sue West Ham through the High Court due to the murky situation of who actually owns the player. West Ham claim they do, and if that is proven in court then the Manchester United lawyers may be having to explain to the Premier League and FA why they had negotiated personal terms with a player from a club who had not given consent for their player to be spoken to.
29-year-old Heinze is never going to be able to play at Old Trafford again, and all because of what amounts to a gaffe by the United hierarchy. Their letter to Heinze’s agent did not exclude Liverpool from being a potential destination for the Argentinean defender, who now wants desperately to be a part of Rafa’s plans. Ferguson keeps speaking in the press that it is all down to Heinze’s agent – but in reality it’s Heinze himself who now wants to move to Anfield. Instead of accepting their mistake they are making themselves seem more and more foolish.
Ferguson is contradicting himself every day, but it’s not the first time. He was asked today for his thoughts on Heinze’s decision to appoint solicitors to help him get his move: “We are aware Gaby is taking legal advice,” said Ferguson, “that’s good. I hope it’s good advice because we’re confident of our position. He’s due back in training on August 6, which gives him three clear weeks’ rest after the Copa America. And we expect him back in training a week on Monday.”
It’s unlikely that a player would go to so much trouble if he didn’t genuinely feel he had a case, and United’s stance on the matter must be making Heinze’s compatriot Tevez wonder what kind of club he’s moving to. The only hope United have is of an alleged conversation between David Gill and Heinze’s agent which said, basically, that he’d forgotten to mention Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal couldn’t be approached about Heinze. This alleged conversation is alleged to have been recorded too, although this part of the story has taken some time to surface, and even if true does not guarantee United are able to get out of their mess.
Ferguson says his main concern is over the signing of Carlos Tevez, something which he says United have taken much more care of than they did over the possible departure of Heinze: “I just hope the Tevez thing is concluded quickly, we all hope for that. That is the main issue for us. We’ve done all the work, Maurice Watkins has been working overtime on it for the last two months now. We’ve gone so far it’s pointless thinking of going back now, we’re where we want to be.”
Despite not yet having gained permission from the owners of the player – at least they are the owners in the eyes of West Ham and the Premier League – Ferguson says Tevez is their player already: “We feel he’s our player, and we hope that’s the case and it’s going to be proven in the next few days. I feel more confident about getting him now because the agent is confident enough to take it to the High Court. You can be embarrassed there if it is not right and lose everything. He must be very confident regarding the situation with West Ham.”
This comment about Tevez already being their player was acceptable enough to Ferguson, who’d been speaking to Sky Sports News, but he condemned Liverpool for – he claimed – assuming Heinze was already their player! “Liverpool are opportunists, like the rest of them. The agent has presented them with a situation and they’ve looked at it. To be honest with you, I think the role of the agent is very, very doubtful here. There’s no question about that. David and I have had countless meetings with these people, but they are just impossible. I’ve not spoken to Gaby – he’s our player, that’s the important thing. He’s not Liverpool’s player, despite them going on as if he’s their player.”
If Ferguson did bother to speak to Heinze he’d no doubt find that Heinze had decided to look after number one, and had decided to leave after his agent had been told United would be happy to sell him at that price to help raise transfer funds. Maybe Ferguson himself wasn’t aware of the letter sent by his boss Gill, but it was sent and Heinze has made it clear he prefers Anfield to Old Trafford.
Ferguson even pretended he’d be glad to see Heinze stay on and see out his Old Trafford contract: “He’s got two years left on his contract. If he completes his contract and then leaves at the end of it, that’s fine by us. We’ll have had five good years out of him.”
As for Tevez, United got a little more of a blow today when the Premier League’s boss Richard Scudamore repeated that West Ham own Tevez, and as such need to be paid the fee they feel appropriate for his transfer: “Tevez is currently registered to West Ham United – that’s a matter of fact. I think it’s very common knowledge – of course it is – that Manchester United would like to acquire him. It would be for West Ham to work out, along with Manchester United, how that takes place, and that has to be done in some sort of bona fide way in accordance with the rules.”
Scudamore went on: “What’s made this entirely more complicated than normal is the fact there is a dispute, which is now a formal dispute, between the MSI group and West Ham that’s now the subject of a High Court writ. In terms of the legal process it will, in some ways, at least adjudicate on some of the rights and wrongs of this saga.”
Scudamore’s view is that West Ham should not have been left out of the transfer process in the way they have been: “Clearly, there are separate issues here. There is the relationship that West Ham have with Mr Tevez and his potential move to another club, which, in some ways, is normal Premier League business which we are used to dealing with. The complication is this other complication, which is the legal claim. For everybody’s sake we all hope it will be resolved sooner rather than later.”
It seems Scudamore is not enjoying the mess created by those involved in the Tevez saga: “I think we all want to get back to the preparation for the season in a normal way soon. There is a huge buzz and excitement around the start of the season and the sooner we get to that position the better.”
It seems the Tevez saga will go on for some time, and it is certainly more complicated than the Heinze situation. Both clubs are hoping to have their new Argentineans in place for the start of the season in two weeks’ time.