This transfer window has seen Tottenham fans rubbing their hands together with glee so far. Always bi-polar and notoriously fickle, they all know it’s the hope that kills you. This window has seen a distinct change in attitudes, though.
Tottenham’s transfer record has been broken not just once, but twice. First, the Brazilian midfielder Paulinho agreed to join in a £17 million deal, and then, after much haggling, will-he, won’t-he, and Tottenham fans’ typical bi-polar “yes, he’s coming, life’s great…oh, no he’s not” attitude rearing its head again, a striker was brought in. A real striker. A shiny, Spanish striker that scores goals. And lots of them.
Roberto Soldado was purchased in a €29 million deal from Valencia. He’s the player that Spurs had been calling out for since Berbatov left and judging by the amount of shirts sold with ‘Soldado 9’ on the back, the fans are taking to him.
The spending doesn’t look to be abating either and Tottenham’s latest acquisition is French international, Etienne Capoue.
The Toulouse defensive midfielder is an intelligent signing by Andre Villas-Boas. One of the best players in Ligue 1 last season he is also able to play centre back where, given the injuries Tottenham have in this area, may be where he starts his career.
This versatility is also what appeals to Villas-Boas. He is well known to favour a smaller squad with players that can cover multiple positions which is reflected in the Paulinho and Nacer Chadli signings.
Undoubtedly, Capoue’s best position is in midfield, though.
While he is primarily a tough-tackling, physically imposing player, he has also added more to the attacking side of his game which was seen through his seven Ligue 1 goals last season.
His ability to start attacks from either a long ball to the striker or finding another player quickly also adheres to Villas-Boas’ philosophy of – what it’s now known as – ‘vertical’ football.
This entails a team working the ball up to the striker with such pace and intensity that it catches the opposing team off guard and unable to deal with such relentless waves of attack. It was the philosophy and style of football used to such devastating effect at Porto.
What makes the signing of Capoue even better is it adds another defensively strong and athletic player to a midfield already crawling with such options.
It allows Sandro – who got his first bit of game time in six months against Espanyol on Saturday – to be allowed to recover without being rushed back. It gives Villas-Boas the flexibility to rotate without losing any quality.
It means that in Capoue, Sandro, Paulinho, and Dembele, everyone has the potential to do each other’s job. Add to that Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson, it’s a midfield that has pace, power, strength, athleticism, creativity, and goals. It has, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here, quite literally, everthing.
On paper, a midfield of Capoue – Sandro – Paulinho seems like a not so gentle nod to Villas-Boas’ days working at Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Their midfield of Makalele – Essien – Lampard was powerful and dominant. Makalele was the destroyer, Essien the athletic box-to-box player and in Lampard had someone who could consistently find the back of the net. The options at Villas-Boas’ disposal sees, if he opts to go with his preferred 4-3-3 formation, all those roles filled.
As far as outgoings are concerned, Capoue’s arrival has seemingly signalled the end of Scott Parker’s spell at the club who will be moved on to QPR while Tom Huddlestone has permanently joined Hull. This will recoup practically the entire transfer fee – thought to be around €10 million plus €2 million in bonuses – paid out for the midfielder. Jake Livermore has joined Hull on loan and Tom Carroll will most probably go out on loan to find minutes instead of battling a packed midfield for games.
With Andre Villas-Boas saying after the game on Saturday that they are still in the market for players I think Spurs fans can safely assume that there will still be incomings.
And even though it’s a killer, they will hope.