Tottenham Better Without Gareth Bale: Life After the Welshman at White Hart Lane
Some recent ink posits that Tottenham Hotspur's newest signings-to-be—Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen—are the club's replacements for outgoing Welsh winger Gareth Bale. But Bale has been replaced by seven men, all summer long, if the latest rumors are true and Chelsea don't decide to swoop in for any more midfielders.
Brushing aside that silly Chicharito garbage, Spurs broke most of their own personal spending records this summer. If you add the £58 million they've spent on Chadli, Soldado, Capoue and Paulinho to the rumored approximately £44 million it will take to land Lamela, Eriksen and Chiriches, you get £102 million, making this Tottenham's first-ever nine-figure transfer window.
If the current hubbub is true, then Erik Lamela's signing will tie Roberto Soldado's for most expensive in club history. And both of them came in the same window after Spurs had already broken their previous record (£16.6 million to land Luka Modric in 2007) by spending £17 million on the transfer of Brazilian sensation Paulinho.
And, of course, if the Gareth Bale-to-Real Madrid story ends as is being reported for the price of £86 million, it will become the most anyone ever sold a player for in the history of football, and it will be the highest profit any team has ever earned on a single player. Bale cost Tottenham a mere £6 million when he came over from Southampton in 2006.
Lord knows what they've done to their wage structure to accommodate all these guys.
So, again, assuming the Eriksen, Lamela and Chiriches deals don't run into any Jose Mourinho-sized blockades, what does that give Tottenham as "replacements" for Gareth Bale? One defender, one striker and count them—FIVE midfielders. Luckily, they aren't all the same.
Paulinho is a classic box-to-box midfielder. Etienne Capoue is talented defensively and slots in as a central defensive mid. Christian Eriksen is the Eredivisie's most prolific central-attacking midfielder. Nacer Chadli is a big, powerful winger with aerial superiority and a great tackle.
Which leaves Argentine Erik Lamela, coming in this weekend from AS Roma. This is the true "Bale replacement" if such a thing could be said to exist. Lamela is pacey, creative, excellent with the ball at his feet and, perhaps most importantly, fearless in front of goal.
He can take over for Bale's wing-to-middle role from last season, and when he does, he'll have more help there. Bale had no one of the caliber of Eriksen, Soldado or Paulinho in the center of the park when he would cut in. I'm a big Gylfi Sigurdsson fan, but come on!
Plus, Lamela is three years younger, and one would have to assume on cheaper wages than the Welsh Wizard.
If Tottenham complete the signings of Eriksen, Lamela and Chiriches, they are a better team after the departure of Gareth Bale than they were during his playing days. Period. It's not about replacing goals and assists—though I believe they've done that with the attacking pieces they've added. It's about balance, complement, and nuance.
When you take the best remaining pieces of last year's squad—Mousa Dembele, Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Lewis Holtby, Kyle Walker—add them to the returning injured Sandro and Younes Kaboul, plus returning loans Andros Townsend and Danny Rose, and then add all that up with the "Bale Seven", you have a legitimate, balanced, powerful football side.
And most of that is thanks to the arrival of £86 million and the departure of one Welshman.
Simply put, Tottenham Hotspur are better without Bale. And the traditional Premier League powerhouses had better be paying attention.
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