Could Charlie Austin to Tottenham Still Happen?

Tottenham target Charlie Austin
Tottenham target Charlie Austin /

Barely two weeks ago it seemed as if Charlie Austin’s move to Tottenham from QPR was probable, perhaps even close. There were other interested parties – Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Everton among them – but at the time Spurs seemed the biggest club pursuing the English striker, or at least the club with the deepest pockets. At £15 million the player was a relative steal, especially considering the price tag West Brom was placing on Saido Berahino even then.

Then David Sullivan chimed in. He claimed that at the price Austin was too big of a risk, citing a failed medical the striker underwent at Hull two seasons ago that suggested he had chronic knee problems. And the rumors dried up. Berahino became the best – and evidently only – hope to give Harry Kane proper support and/or competition.

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Sharp-eyed readers will note that David Sullivan is not a QPR representative however. He’s West Ham United’s chairman and thus has no source for his accusation but for idle gossip. There’s certainly no factual support for the claim that Austin’s got a bum knee – he’s played 34 and 35 league games in each of the last two seasons respectively. If the 26-year-old were to actually not have any ligaments left in his knee, how could he manage such consistency, much less score 37 goals along the way?

As outrageous and bewildering as Sullivan’s claims were, you would think that it would take much more than the claims of an unaffiliated third party to discourage Tottenham’s pursuit of Austin. Perhaps the club investigated and found some truth to the tale? Perhaps Austin’s been riding his luck these past two seasons as he runs around on a dangerously combustible knee?

Or maybe the club was unwilling to get involved in a bidding war for Austin. At £15 million he’d be a virtual steal for Tottenham, but with so many potential suitors in a league suddenly flush with cash that price could go up very quickly. The whispers that Manchester United and Chelsea might also enter the bidding war would only have pushed Daniel Levy and Tottenham away even further.

Tottenham’s willingness to edge closer and closer to West Brom’s £25 million asking price for Berahino though suggests that perhaps the club knows Austin wouldn’t be the best fit. Comparing the two players you immediately see the difference: where Austin is the classic English battering-ram of a striker, Berahino is decidedly more modern. His game is goals but also participating in the build up play, a quality that Tottenham prize greatly within their unique style. Austin might be an ideal substitute when the team’s in need of a goal, but Berahino could be great from the opening whistle.

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The truth, as ever, likely lies somewhere in between all of these suppositions. In the end, it could be that Austin’s primary appeal to any club – in particular Tottenham – is that he’s still available on the last day of the transfer window. Even the most patient, deliberate transfer policies come down to dealing with the best of what’s left at the deadline.

QPR haven’t exactly put Austin up for auction, but at £15 million or more he’d be the most lucrative sale in the club’s history and thus hard to turn down. With the Berahino saga seemingly withering away with West Brom’s pushback and many of Tottenham’s other striker targets quickly evaporating, it’s entirely possible Austin will be in Tottenham’s lilywhites this time tomorrow.

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