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Tottenham President Daniel Levy and the Kane Poker: Bayern bite on granite



FC Bayern Munich wants Harry Kane, Harry Kane wants to FC Bayern Munich – but what does Daniel Levy (61) want? The transfer depends on what is probably the most persistent and toughest negotiator in world football.

60 more sleeps, then it’s finally Daniel Levy’s favorite day again: the so-called Deadline Day. So the day when the transfer window in the top European leagues closes. The last day to close big deals. “Levy Time” as they like to say in England.

Then at the latest there will be a decision as to whether Harry Kane will switch to Bayern. If so, of course only on the terms of the long-time co-owner and president of Tottenham Hotspur. Munich is said to have already offered 70 million euros for their dream striker, speculation is about a new offer of 93 million euros, Levy apparently wants at least 100 million.

That would be quite a handsome sum for a footballer who will soon be 30 and whose contract expires next summer and who is not making any moves to extend it. On the contrary: Kane himself is aiming for a change, according to reports his advisors have long since agreed with FC Bayern.

Should the Munich team decide to actually offer 100 million euros for Kane, Levy will probably want 100 million pounds. Levy loves to push negotiations to the extreme, preferably until deadline day. It is not for nothing that he is considered the most persistent and toughest negotiator in world football.

Daniel Levy: His Deals on Deadline Day

Would you like an example? In 2008, Tottenham’s then-star striker Dimitar Berbatov pushed for weeks for a move to Manchester United. It was back and forth and back and forth before Levy sold Berbatov for €38m on Deadline Day. It was the second most expensive transfer that summer.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson then called the negotiations with Levy “even more painful than my new hip joint”. You have to know: The installation of a new hip joint is quite painful – and Ferguson is also proven to be tough. He eventually grew up in Glasgow’s post-war working-class Govan area.

Levy also made smart purchases on Deadline Day, for example in 2012 Hugo Lloris from Olympique Lyon for only 12.6 million euros. The Frenchman should become the long-standing goalkeeper and captain. Rafael van der Vaart and Jermaine Defoe also arrived just before the transfer deadline and proved to be real reinforcements. Most recently, Levy struck late at Emerson Royal, Rodrigo Bentancur and Pedro Porro (loan).

Gareth Bale: Daniel Levy’s masterpiece

For once, Tottenham’s president did not complete his most spectacular deal on the deadline day, but rather relaxed on the penultimate day of the transfer window: in 2013 he sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for 101 million euros, at that time the most expensive transfer in football history. The English telegraph afterwards hailed Levy as “the king of hard deals” and “a businessman with such unyielding determination he could be carved from granite”.

At Real, they knew who they were going to be dealing with before the Bale negotiations. The year before, Luka Modric had switched to Madrid for 35 million euros – after tough poker including training sessions and a fine for Modric.

Levy only signs a deal when he is completely convinced of it – and when in doubt, he prefers not to sign it at all. In 2018, Tottenham became the first Premier League club in history to end a summer transfer window without a single move.

Tottenham won just one title under Daniel Levy

Levy also takes a hard line when it comes to contract negotiations with players, which is why Tottenham’s salary level is reportedly significantly lower than that of the other top Premier League clubs. Which is why important players say goodbye on a regular basis.

With his methods, Levy not only drives negotiating partners crazy, but also his own fans. Traditionally, he is accused of placing economic success over sporting success. In the recent past, Levy has invested larger sums – last summer, for example, he brought in Cristian Romero and Richarlison for over 50 million euros each and in this Pedro Porro and James Maddison for around 45 million each – but this is mainly due to the general transfer fee inflation .

Ready stars are rare, with almost every transfer Levy relies on development. He established Tottenham as a top six club over the years, but won no titles apart from a League Cup in 2008. When the team slipped out of the international starting places this season for the first time since 2009 and ultimately only ended up in eighth place, Levy came under massive criticism from many fans. “Profit before glory” could be read on banners in the course of large protest actions, or: “Daniel Levy Out”.

Daniel Levy at Tottenham Hotspur: A fan as president

These protests may have affected Levy personally, as he has been a Spurs fan since childhood. Born near London, he studied in Cambridge and then set up the investment trust ENIC together with his partner Joe Lewis.

At the end of the 1990s, the company acquired shares in several professional clubs: Rangers from Glasgow, AEK Athens, Slavia Prague, FC Basel, LR Vicenza and Tottenham. In 2001, ENIC finally took complete control of Spurs and Levy became president. The shares in the other clubs had to be sold due to UEFA regulations.

Levy’s biggest project at Tottenham was the new stadium, which cost over a billion euros. The arena was designed by architect Christopher Lee, who helped Levy with the BBC subsequently called “the most demanding client I have ever worked with”. “He was incredibly dedicated and took care of everything down to the smallest detail.” According to Lee, Levy would work seven days a week – but only sleep two to three hours a night.

Harry Kane: Levy prevented a move to Manchester City

Incidentally, Levy himself is extremely reluctant to give interviews, and the striking bald head may have a special aura about this public unapproachability. In personal dealings, Levy is “shy, sensitive and funny,” said Tottenham’s longtime coach Mauricio Pochettino.

He coached Spurs from 2014 to 2019, by far the longest coaching tenure since Levy took office. Before and after that, the President fired happily to himself. Latest achievement Ange Postecoglou is the sixth manager since Pochettino’s departure. Many fans also accuse Levy of this lack of continuity in the coaching position.

Postecoglou’s chances of success are likely to depend heavily on Kane’s future, since his breakthrough in 2014, the homegrown has finally been Tottenham’s life insurance. Kane has already scored 280 goals for Spurs, 213 of them in the Premier League. Record goalscorer Alan Shearer is just 47 goals ahead of him.

In 2021 everything pointed to the striker’s farewell. Manchester City offered 150 million euros. Kane wanted to change, skipped training sessions and also missed the start of the season – but Levy stood firm. No change, not even on deadline day. Does it work this time? Kane and Bayern want, but that doesn’t have to mean anything.