Having spent the last year earning the love of the Tottenham fans and providing the bite their midfield had long been lacking, Wilson Palacios has risked their wrath by publicising his desire to move to Real Madrid.
The World Cup-bound Honduran international has added a new dimension to the Spurs side since joining the club in January 2009 from Wigan. He has brought tenacity, spirit and energy to the more traditionally classy Tottenham style and is proving to be the rock that Harry Redknapp can build his cultured midfield around. Spurs have become a lot tougher to beat over the past 12 months which has culminated in them becoming a real contender for a Champions League qualification spot. With injuries over the course of the season to the likes of Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone and Luka Modric, Palacios has been a constant among a changing side and has never let his employees down. He might not offer much of a goal threat and has not ventured forward as much as he tended to for the Latics, but his disciplined approach in the holding role has elevated his standing in one of the fashionable positions of the modern game. A shield in front of the defence is nothing new but it has only gained its current popularity since Claude Makelele re-wrote the manual at Real Madrid in the first Galacticos era. Now Palacios seems keen to fill Makelele’s boots at the Bernabeu.
Tottenham fans will have every right to consider Palacios’ comments as disrespectful. It is perfectly reasonable to aspire to playing for Madrid, and it is hard to argue with Palacios that they are a bigger club. As high a standing as Spurs enjoy in the game, Real are virtually peerless in terms of historical success and iconic figures. At present, Tottenham are among the top few clubs in the Premier League, whilst Los Merengues are perennially among the top two sides in Spain. What Palacios should have done is keep his feelings to himself. He may have said he is happy at White Hart Lane at present and not angling for an immediate move, but Tottenham deserve more respect that to be publically labelled as a stepping stone to greater things. As a side on the up, Palacios must realise that he is one of the members of the current squad who Redknapp will be basing his plans around, and he is doing his club few favours by expressing his ambitions to move on so soon after joining. If Spurs are to attract the players that can take them to the next level over the next couple of years, they need top quality performers like Palacios to remain at the club or they will be forever rebuilding. Spurs fans will take little comfort from the Cristiano Ronaldo saga where even Manchester United could not prevent their brightest star from getting his wish of a move to Madrid but in Ronaldo’s defence, he had at least spent a sizeable period of time at Old Trafford and Palacios needs to remain loyal for considerably longer than a year.
It is debatable whether Palacios would benefit from moving away from Spurs as Real do not exactly prioritise the kind of qualities he possesses. The Madrid faithful like attacking showboaters, and would rather cram as many flair players in to the side than worry about defensive stability. The likes of Mahamadou Diarra and Fernando Gago have arrived with big reputations but not been treated as essential players. After all, this is the team that were willing to eschew Makelele, the finest exponent of the holding role in recent history. If someone as influential as the former France international can be treated as disposable, then what hope is there for the relatively unproven Palacios? The dream has not exactly gone to plan for Ronaldo so far, with Madrid knocked out of the Champions League in midweek whilst his former United colleagues progressed. Palacios might find he is better off as a bigger fish in a slightly smaller pond at the Lane.
The chance to move to a Spanish culture more in line with his native Honduras might appeal to Palacios, but he might find his style is more suited to remaining in the English game. Tottenham already have the basis to grow in to a future Champions League regular but will only achieve it if they can add to the likes of Palacios and Lennon rather than having to replace them. If Spurs can keep their stars and reinforce their squad with quality cover, then Palacios could well yet achieve his footballing goals in North London. If things do not go to plan, he can always try for a Madrid move further down the line. For now, he needs to let his football do the talking and concentrate on the task in hand at Tottenham.
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