The transfer window is often riled for being the arena of greedy players and greedier agents, with parent clubs often receiving the shorter end of the stick.
But say what you will about the window, it’s often what gets football fans going past the the terribly morbid and sleep-inducing close season. And as the case in modern football is, a club’s performance in the transfer window will either make or break its season.
Every season, a team is required to ‘refresh’ its squad to keep up with the others, and it is a vicious circle, to be fair. But till such time as each and every team on the planet decides to exercise a season of transfer celibacy, their performance within the market will determine their season off it.
Case in point: Manchester City. The 2011/2012 was initially characterised by a flurry of transfer activity, with the likes of Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero being drafted in. The season was wrapped up with Aguero running shirtless celebrating his last minute winner against Queens Park Rangers, which ensured the Premier League ribbon would for the first time be shorn with sky blue ribbons.
The scene at the end of last season was much different, with Manchester United winning the title with an 11-point lead and five games to spare, owing to the goalscoring exploits of their marquee signing, Robin Van Persie. This window, of all the clubs competing for the top-four of the EPL last season, Tottenham Hotspur have shone the most brightly.
Make no mistake, City have conducted some excellent business, and are in an enviable position, having signed some of the most sought-after players in the world. And yet, it is Villas-Boas’ Tottenham who have silently carried out the best business in the league, and arguably some of the best work of the whole window by far.
Their first signing was Confederations Cup Bronze Ball-winner, Paulinho, signed from Corinthians for £17m. A bargain, taking his age and ability into consideration. That was just the lifting of the floodgates though, as Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, and Etienne Capoue the newest players to be added to the Spurs roster.
Of all these Premier League newcomers, Soldado is arguably the most well-known, and sure to be the most important of the lot. Signed from Valencia CF for a club record £26m, Soldado is probably Spain’s best striker – the woes of David Villa and Fernando Torres being well documented – and made a positive impression at the Confederations Cup. Couple that with his prolific goal-scoring record for Valencia – 80 goals in 146 appearances – and what Tottenham have is one of the world’s most reliable strikers to head their front-line, and to provide a much needed alternative to the oft misfiring Adebayor and Defoe.
Villas-Boas has now bolstered the squad enough to deal with the rigours of a thirty-eight game League season, and also provided Tottenham with a buffer in the event Bale leaves for greener pastures.
The entire Gareth Bale saga has provided Villas-Boas and Sporting Director Franco Baldini with plenty of migraines as well, but Chairman Daniel Levy is known for his innate ability to play transfer hardball and squeeze every last penny out of the suitor club’s pockets.
Levy and Baldini are under no obligation to sell Gareth Bale, with the Welshman having signed a new four-year contract last July. Whether Bale stays or leaves, Tottenham are set to win heavily, with Levy adamant he will not sell the player for any amount less than £100m, which would eclipse the world record amount Real Madrid themselves paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
If Bale stays, then Spurs have held on to their most prized asset for at least another entire season, and will be quietly confident of being able to qualify for the hallowed Champions League. If that hypothesis does prove true, then Bale can be convinced to extend his career at White Hart Lane and challenge for silverware, while plying his trade in first class European competition.
However, if the flying Welshman were to be flying elsewhere, the club would have the best part of £100m to spend in the transfer market, which would then mean that a Bale replacement could very well be found, and more.
Tottenham have for long been known as supremely prudent, and consequently successful in wheeling/dealing in the market, buying players for (close to) nothing, developing them into world-class players, and then moving them on at their peaks or later for gut-wrenchingly high prices.
The 2013/14 season has begun in similar fashion for Tottenham, with Chadli, Capoue, and Paulinho being relatively unknown and under-valued entities, who are sure to prosper at the club in the near future. Roberto Soldado has been the eye-catching signing, and is an assured goal-scorer who will thrive on the service from players like Lennon, Dembele, Paulinho, Sigurddson, Holtby and the rest who are of several notches higher quality than the crop at his previous club Valencia.
He made his unofficial Tottenham debut against Sevilla yesterday, and though the game only ended 1-1, Soldado scored his team’s only goal from the penalty spot. Paulinho and Chadli made their debuts too, and showed extremely positive signs for the upcoming season, with Chadli’s pace causing reminiscences of Bale. The season has begun with plenty of positives for the club already.
Now to infinity and beyond, riding on Bale’s pace or not.