The protracted transfer of Spurs and Wales forward Gareth Bale finally appears to be drawing to a close. The move is widely expected to be completed in the coming days and whilst many Spurs fans will be gutted to have lost their player of the season – and one of the finest ever to wear the lilywhite of Tottenham – it should be noted how well the club has dealt with the situation.
A key part of Tottenham’s success in receiving such a high fee for Bale has undoubtedly been chairman Daniel Levy’s notorious ability to squeeze every penny out of a potential deal. The English businessman has been chairman of the Premier League side since 2001 and has been able to negotiate huge fees for players such as Luka Modric (£33 million) and Dimitar Berbatov (£30 million) due to his brinkmanship in the transfer market.
Being able to achieve high payouts has never been a problem for Tottenham, the issue has been that the money has either not been reinvested well or at all. In the case of Berbatov, the Bulgarian was only able to get his move to Manchester United on deadline day due to Levy’s haggling. Whilst this certainly pushed the price up it left Spurs without any time to sign a replacement and the club ended up with only a young, unproven Frazier Campbell on loan to replace the outgoing Berbatov.
This summer has been different for Tottenham, a key reason for this has been the arrival of Technical Director Franco Baldini from Roma. This role is geared towards player requirement and the Italian has ten years experience in a similar role as Director of Football and this knowledge has been fundamental to Spurs’ strategy in the transfer market. Such has been the Italian’s impact that Daily Mirror journalist Matt Law has called him the best signing of the summer (Source: Daily Mirror).
The key difference to Spurs’ approach during this transfer window has been ensuring that player recruitment is paramount. In previous summers this has not always been the case as Levy has focused on fees for outgoing players rather than potential recruits. Tottenham have already spent nearly £60 million and this had been expected to rise to £90 million with the signing of Willian who now appears destined for Chelsea. This figure will most likely be surpassed with the signing of Roma winger Erik Lamela and possibly Real Madrid full back Fabio Coentrao.
Around £90 million is the proposed fee for Bale and it has become increasingly clear that the North London club have been preparing for life after Bale. This pre-emptive approach, completing deals early has enabled Spurs to sign players for less than if they were approaching clubs after they had just received £90 million for Bale which would surely have seen an inflation in asking prices. This strategy also enabled Tottenham to build a relatively settled squad ahead of their first Premier League game and they were able to get their campaign off to a good start with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace. This is in stark contrast to Arsenal who suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa after signing only France Under-20 International Yaya Sanogo.
The key to Spurs transfer business this summer though, has been the quality of the players signed. While it is tough to lose Bale, it will be seen in the future as a positive move for the club who now have strength and depth in a variety of positions and will no longer be reliant on one player. Spurs have broken their transfer record twice this summer; with Paulinho (£17 million) initially arriving off the back of a string of quality performances at the Confederations Cup, he was then followed by Roberto Soldado (£26 million) a Spanish international with an impressive goalscoring record. Both showcased their talent on their Premier League debuts, as Paulinho picked up the man of the match award and Soldado bagged his first goal which turned out to be the match-winner. The Belgian winger Nacer Chadli was unable to match the high level set by Bale but looked confident on the ball and appeared a much better fit on the left wing than Dempsey ever did. Finally, midfield enforcer Etienne Capoue brought a real presence to the midfield and looks like top quality business for the North London club
The match against Palace only finished 1-0 to Spurs and the players clearly had not fully gelled and learnt each other’s playing styles. There is clearly a lot of potential in this Tottenham team though and given a few games together, as well as a couple more signings to further strengthen the squad this can be a good season for Spurs who can really push Arsenal for a place in the top four. Even if they do fall short, the club will know that they have a good set of players prepared to stay which provides a good foundation for the future – something Bale could not offer
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