The squad that Bale built

Gareth Bale
With the transfer of Gareth Bale imminent, Spurs have probably had the best transfer window in their history.

€100 million? £100 million? €140 million? £105 million? The guessing game on what is the exact fee Real Madrid will pay for Gareth’s Bale’s services has been hilarious. Journalists have been scrambling to be able to use the completely oversaturated term ‘EXCLUSIVE’ all summer, embarrassing themselves on numerous occasions in the process by wildly jumping the gun.

Let’s look at the facts. Spurs have spent roughly £108m already this window. A club record total which includes breaking its transfer record three times for consecutively Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela. The club has recouped an estimated £24m through the sales of Clint Dempsey, Steven Caulker, Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker. Therefore, the net spend currently stands at £84m.

The last time Spurs peaked anywhere near their current spending was in season 2008/09 when the club’s transfer outlay was an estimated £105m. Spurs signed players such as Vedran Corluka, Heurelho Gomes, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe, Wilson Palacios, Roman Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley. Looking back, the only player that really stood out in terms of quality was Luka Modric.

How different are things now. Paulinho, Soldado, Capoue and Lamela are all players that will directly improve our starting eleven. Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen and Vlad Chiriches are all very talented players who definitely will make an impact once they have settled into life at Spurs. With an average age of 23.4 years, this freshly signed group of players mostly have their best years ahead of them. The same could not be said of past signings like Keane, Friedel, Nelsen, Parker and Gallas. The emphasis clearly is on young talent, who still have vast room for improvement, and therefore can keep on improving along with the team.

Of course, losing your best player has an impact on every team. But with the shrewd business Spurs have done in the last couple of weeks the blow of losing Gareth Bale will be absorbed a lot better. The money Spurs are about to receive has not only been spent on a direct replacement, but it has improved both the starting eleven and the depth of the squad. Finally the team boasts a striker of international pedigree. Finally the midfield does not have to take three steps back in terms of quality when one or two players are injured. Finally the club has seen the light and are backing their manager with virtually a blank cheque and some tremendous help by new technical director Franco Baldini.

The reality is that selling a player to a club that offers a fee vastly in excess of the player’s actual value makes perfect business sense. No player in the world is worth £100 million, not even £70 million. But in crazy times like these, in which the market has become so inflated due to the introduction of billionaire-backed clubs and ever-increasing TV revenue, a player’s qualities bear no relation to his market value or the fee suitors are willing to pay for his services anymore. Call it the ‘Sky effect’, call it the ‘Oligarch era’, football is experiencing its own bubble. It will inevitably burst at some point like most bubbles do, but it doesn’t look like this will happen any time soon.

Madrid will probably boast that they have recouped the player’s transfer fee within two months merely through related merchandise revenue, like Barcelona did after the signing of Neymar. But wouldn’t they make the same kind of revenue if they had signed 5 players for the same fee Bale commanded? The same goes for Spurs. Bale was the club’s ideal poster boy. He was on the cover of magazines, video games and on a gigantic billboard at Times Square. But would the signing of a host of top players not make up for the loss of one? Wouldn’t it be better if a team can fill a poster with nearly eleven world stars than just one superstar?

Like every other Spurs fan I was not looking forward to the prospect of Bale leaving the club this summer. However, no one could have predicted the sensational business the club has done this window. The squad looks stronger than ever before. Our defence looks very solid, our midfield oozes quality, strength, skills and depth, and we finally have a top class striker. What more could we ask for? I’m not sure. Nevertheless, it seems we are still not done in the transfer market. It feels like a dream but with a net transfer spend of -£2m (that’s actually a profit) after the sale of Bale, there is definitely room for some more exciting signings. Somebody pinch me.


Dutch Spurs fan, football connoisseur and ambassador of free-flowing attacking football.

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