The transfer window is a dirty business. Clubs, players and agents have their own agenda and there's a culture now that seems to encourage dishonesty.
Take Peter Odemwingie on deadline day in January. He was told by West Brom he could go to QPR, but there turned out to be some kind of miscommunication. His agent had him travel down to London to force the issue, things fell apart and he was thrown to the wolves and made a laughing stock.
Meanwhile, QPR could just hide behind a well-constructed press statement.
In my experience, clubs often say one thing and mean another. Andre Villas-Boas told Gareth Bale to say goodbye to the Spurs players; Liverpool told Luis Suarez they needed one more season from him and he could leave if they failed to reach the Champions League.
What really complicates things is the way players are paid. Wayne Rooney, for example, is said to earn £250,000/week at Manchester United, but he doesn't see all of that coming into his bank account. He'll get £100,000/week, minus tax and national insurance, but the rest is paid in huge chunks.
United won't call that a loyalty bonus. It's more of a transfer fee, but they can hold it back. If Rooney hands in a transfer request, he won't see that money. And that's why agents tell players not to hand in transfer requests. They want to have their cake and eat it.
It's a grey area that badly needs addressing, because it leaves players and agents with little choice but to try and game the system. Suddenly, a player who wants to leave suffers an injury and they can't train, or play.
It doesn't help that the window is open so long. It would be far more sensible if they opened it for a couple of weeks at the end of the season and pushed clubs to do all their business quickly. That way, you avoid the situation where players hoping to move are still playing for their current club—or not playing, as the case may be.
When I was at Forest I got the message Liverpool and Everton were both prepared to match the British transfer fee, but I had time to go on holiday, relax and make a decision. It was the best way, because once you're told a big club wants to sign you, it's very difficult to concentrate on playing.
For Bale, Rooney and Suarez, the decision is having to be made while the season is ongoing.
Players are more in the dark you'd imagine. I remember being told Manchester United were interested in signing me, and then I heard Andy Cole had joined United from Newcastle. My agent, Paul Stretford, hadn't even told me about Cole, and he was representing him.
Bale will be watching the TV like the rest of us. The situation is probably that Spurs have agreed a deal, but are working through the details of a payment scheme.
I do feel he should be reporting to training. Even if he's injured, he should be going in to work on his cardiovascular fitness. That way, he can walk away knowing he's done everything correctly.
The problem is, agents have learned that you can make things happen more quickly by acting in certain ways.
Contracts are another complicated area. I got in a dispute with Forest after my Liverpool move, because my deal said they had to pay me five percent of any fee they got for me. That would have been £425,000, which was a huge amount of money.
Forest tried to say I'd engineered the move, which meant they wouldn't have to pay it. There was absolutely no proof, and I'd never missed training, but the Premier League agreed and the fee wasn't paid.
And then there's the worry that a club can turn the fans against you. When I returned to Forest as a Liverpool player, the story had been told of my greed in the situation and they needed a one-mile police perimeter to protect me. One fan had made an entire scrapbook of me in Forest gear with my head cut off, and blood everywhere.
I hadn't done anything wrong. But, as I said, the transfer window is a dirty business.
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