Cast your mind back to little over twelve months ago and to another transfer saga involving the North London club and Spanish giants Real. The move saw the Croatian star Luka Modric move to the Spanish capital and despite attempts to capture players like Joao Moutinho, Villas-Boas never really signed a like for like replacement for the clever playmaker. Instead he strengthened his squad in the midfield area using numbers. Mousa Dembele, Clint Dempsey, Gylfi Sigurdsson and then in January, Lewis Holtby were added to the rooster at White Hart Lane vastly improving the quality in depth of the side, despite none of them being a direct like for like replacement for the departed Croatian.
These additions helped fill the void left by Modric, coupled with the scintillating form of Gareth Bale. This in addition to the defensive stability as well and the ability to play from the back, (thanks to the excellent capture of Jan Vertonghen,) helped Tottenham incorporate Villas-Boas’ style of football and brought them ultimately within the cusp of a much desired Champions League return. There were positives throughout the side, the form of full back Kyle Walker who finished the season with 36 premiership appearances, with the form of defensive midfielder Sandro, who if remains fit provides an excellent defensive platform for Tottenham’s creative players to showcase their natural ability.
The one area where Tottenham were let down was in front of goal. Last season they averaged 17.9 shots on goal per game. Let’s call this 18 for easiness. This was the second highest in the league only behind Liverpool. Despite this Tottenham finished the season with 66 goals, tied with Manchester City but beaten by Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. Of the 66 goals that Tottenham did score, 21 of those came from Gareth Bale meaning that without him they only managed 45 goals.
As mentioned previously, getting shots away and creating chances is not the issue for Spurs the issue remains goals. Jermaine Defoe continues to show that he will score goals for the North London club, his return of 11 in the Premiership was decent but from 27 starts and 7 sub appearances his return could have been better. Emmanuel Adebayor is notoriously frustrating for Tottenham fans who as you could imagine would be left annoyed by his poor return of only 5 goals in 18 starts and 7 sub appearances. This shows that the underlying problem for Spurs is the required quality up front to start pushing for that Champions League spot.
This brings us to the subject of Gareth Bale and the interest from Real Madrid which is now rumoured to be surfacing on the €100million mark. There is no denying that Gareth Bale is an extremely, extremely talented footballer, but that kind of money represents an excellent return on the reported £10million investment in 2007. However the problem for Spurs is that if they do sell Bale to the Spanish giants, this is the second summer in a row that they have sold their key asset to the Madrid side. As far as the fans go they have higher ambitions for their club than to become a selling side to the giants of Europe, they envision their side amongst Europe’s elite. Who could blame them? With a talented, vibrant squad with a young exciting manager few could argue that Spurs have the potential to eventually break the premiership top four with a little more smart investment.
Top goal scorers cost money. Lots of it. A 25 goal a season striker, on paper can cost a premiership side on upwards of 30 million, based on the recent transfers in and out of the premiership. Players like Aguero, Van Persie, & Torres have been bought for huge sums for a guarantee of goals. (Not all have provided,) and players like Suarez are now being quoted in the £40million plus bracket. Spurs where at the same cross roads last season, where they realised that they would have to fork out huge sums of money to get a direct replacement for one of the world’s best playmakers Luka Modric. Instead they concentrated on improving the overall quality throughout the squad in numbers rather than on one individual. €100 million is a lot of money for Gareth Bale, a truly wonderful player. Spurs realise that they cannot take the money and invest it in a direct replacement for Bale, perhaps one of the main reasons they are so desperate not to sell.
Instead Villas Boas may look to emulate last summer, by signing not one direct replacement for Bale, but instead looking for goal scorers, maybe two or three that can add the necessary quality to the squad. Looking at it from a purely mathematical basis Villas Boas needs to buy 21 premiership goals and 4 assist and then he has matched Gareth Bale’s contribution. Any more than this and it has been surpassed. Is this possible? With €100 million to spend it certainly is. Perhaps Spurs need to forget the sentimental value and adoration they have for Bale and realise that the money being offered grants them all kinds of opportunities in the race for the Champions League spot and who knows, one season soon maybe further.