Spurs reject QPR bid for Bafana captain Pienaar... but that's only half the story
SPURS rejected the first of an expected avalanche of bids for Steve Pienaar on Friday when new Queens Park Rangers boss Mark Hughes approached Harry Redknapp for the under-used South African captain.
Pienaar, brought up in the tough Westbury area of Johannesburg, has played just five times for in-form Tottenham this season - but his appearances have been limited to Carling Cup and Europe League outings.
His bargain £2m move from Everton in January 2011 was engineered by manager Rob Moore after a new contract went unsigned at Goodison Park.
Hughes is believed to have offered around the same price for Pienaar, but will up the bid to £3m in an attempted to make Pienaar his first signing since taking over from Neil Warnock at Loftus Road.
Pienaar, injured in pre-season, finds himself unable to get beyond Gareth Bale on the left of Harry Redknapp's title-chasing midfield - a minor fact overlooked (but mentioned here) when he snubbed Chelsea for Spurs a year ago.
Pienaar, 29, and agent Moore insisted the move was all about playing Champions League football but Spurs failed to finish in the top four last season and missed out on Europe's premier competition.
Everton are also believed to be interested in ending Pienaar's misery, offering to take him back on loan to the club where he won the fans's player of the season award in 2009. Pienaar is also being watched by Scottish giants Celtic and Spurs' injury-ravaged neighbours Arsenal.
Spurs boss Redknapp is believed to be persuadable on the issue of Pienaar's departure but publicly he said: "I wouldn't want to let him go. He is a good player," Redknapp said. "I brought him on for the last 10 minutes against Everton on Wednesday and he didn't give the ball away. I don't have any need to weaken the squad. I would rather have a good squad for last 18 matches of the season than let one or two go who could play a part in the run-in."
But surely the point is, if Redknapp really didn't want Pienaar to go, how did knowledge of QPR's bid emerge in all the English newspapers simulataneously. Harry, though he denies it, is a wheeler dealer in the market. My belief is he "leaked" news of the bid, along with quotes saying he still wanted Pienaar. That way, he gets to keep Pienaar happy while stoking a bidding war for his talented but largely redundant South African.
Pienaar's Spurs career started promisingly, the South African slotting in to the team after an injury to Gareth Bale. He started the Londoners' Champions League second-round game away to Milan but a series of injuries meant that he saw little first-team action. He suffered a concussion after clashing heads with a team-mate, Bongani Khumalo, during training in February and he picked up a groin problem towards the end of the season.
Pienaar was confident that the groin problem had gone away, but it flared up again in pre-season and he had to undergo surgery, ruling him out until mid-September. Another two setbacks kept him out until November.
My experience tells me the Hughes bid was leaked to the British press in an attempt to "make a market" for Pienaar, with bigger and better bids coming soon. But Pienaar should hold firm. The transfer window still has a fortnight to run. And Bale could yet suffer an injury which could tranform Schillo's Spurs fortunes.