Apart from Manchester City, Tottenham have made some impressive signings over the summer, and there doesn’t seem to be any let up in their dealings yet. However, this must come as a pleasant surprise to Spurs fans who have been frustrated by the way Daniel Levy has conducted his business over the past few seasons.
We have seen a familiar story unfold with the sale of arguably their best players right at the death of the transfer window, meaning the money recouped from the sales is lying dormant in the Spurs coffers while they miss out on Champions League football.
In 2006, on the 31st July – Man Utd signed Michael Carrick for £18.6m from Spurs after Levy had rejected bids from June 10th, starting at £10m. This represented a £16m profit for Tottenham (although I’d imagine West Ham, his former club, would have got healthy slice of that) from a player they signed in 2004 for £2.7m. Great business surely? A massive profit margin to splash out on new players…. Well, Spurs signed Didier Zokora, Steed Malbranque, Reto Ziegler and Wayne Routledge to try and fill Michael Carrick’s impressive boots – none of the above impressed and Spurs finished 5th in the Premier League 8 points behind close rivals Arsenal. Arguably, at that time most Spurs fans would have taken that, but the season before they only finished two points behind Arsenal and narrowly missed out on the Promised Land – Champions League Football.
In 2008, on the 31st July, Spurs once again sold one of their prized assets to Manchester United; this time it was Dimitar Berbatov. Now this was probably one of the most famous of Levy deals – he really did draw this one out as long as he could, much to most Spurs fans dismay. They sold Berby for around £31m, which is currently Manchester United’s transfer record, more than doubling the money they paid for him. However, they also sold Robbie Keane that summer for around £20m and replaced them both with Roman Pavyluchenko (we won’t even mention Fraizer Campbell). So poor was his return, then ended up bringing back Robbie Keane (from his highly unsuccessful spell at Anfield), and Jermaine Defoe. Every cloud and all that though – they finally replaced Michael Carrick with Luka Modric, who was a shining light in a season which saw Spurs finish 8th.
Last season saw the departure of Luka Modric, a player who had been linked with Chelsea the season before, and tried to force a move through then. However 3 days before the window closed, Levy finally eaked out all he could from Real Madrid and sold him for a reported £33m, this again was more than double what they paid for him a few seasons before. They never really replaced Modric, although arguable Moussa Dembele (signed from Fulham) was pretty good in parts of the season, which saw Spurs narrowly miss out on a Champions League place, again to old foes Arsenal!
Cue the Summer of 2013; Cue Franco Baldini; Cue Daniel Levy ostensibly learning from his mistakes. Undoubtedly, Spurs have brought in some real class over the past couple of months, leaving poor Daniel Levy with repetitive strain injury from writing a host of cheques and no doubt some sleepless nights on how this may or may not pan out. A world-class striker in Soldado (£26m), which they needed with Adebayor not replicating the form he had shown during his loan. Paulinho(£18m), who despite troubled stints at previous clubs before returning to Brazil, comes with a big reputation and looks like a pretty solid box-to-box midfielder. My brother has been raving about Etienne Capoue (£10m) for a while now, as evidently Newcastle were linked with him a couple of years ago (why wouldn’t they be, he’s French) and is the kind of Midfield enforcer Spurs (or Arsenal) need. They also have German youngster Lewis Holtby who was added in January, and again, he looks pretty handy, although not yet the finished article! Tricky winger Nacer Chadli was their last acquisition, although they remain in the market and are favourites for another Brazilian, which is £30m rated Willian. There are also strong reports of a bid in the offing for Argentine forward, Erik Lamela!
Not only does it look like Spurs are going to be a big threat to the top four bubble, but they are clearly building for the future too. Arguably, Arsenal fans would have loved Wenger to have got all of the players Spurs have signed, and no doubt he would have tried with his publicly heralded ‘warchest’ – a daft decision by the Arsenal board if you ask me.
One question mark remains though; the small matter of Gareth Bale. In our post earlier on this summer, The Great British Transfer Saga, we predicted that perhaps Bale would stay at least for another season, despite the usual rhetoric coming out of the Bernabeau. Figures of around £85m plus an unhappy Coentrao(which would surpass Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80m world record) are being banded about, and although there was a lot of noise coming from Spurs confirming they wouldn’t sell him, it has gone distinctly quiet since the season has began. But did Daniel Levy make up his mind that he would sell Bale weeks back? Let’s face it, it’s not every season Spurs spend £60m (pending perhaps another £40m) on players without making some serious sales? Or has Levy (and Baldini, of course) realised that to break into this top four, they are going to need to make some serious changes to their squad?
As a Man Utd fan I am seriously envious of the talent Spurs have in their midfield, with or without Bale. If they do sign Willian in the next few days (beating Liverpool to yet another player), then I fully expect Bale to be plying his trade in Madrid this season. If this is the case, then congratulations to Daniel levy – after years of ensuring clubs pay over the odds for his players by leaving it until the last minute to the detriment of his club, he may have finally found a happy medium; Gambling on the potential sale (and usual exaggerated fee) of his star player right at the death of the transfer window in order to bring in talent and marquee signings prior to the Premier League even starting. Kudos.