Tottenham Hotspur: Top 5 Transfer Deals of All-Time

Willie Gannon@https://twitter.com/WillieGannonSenior Writer IJuly 15, 2014

Tottenham Hotspur: Top 5 Transfer Deals of All-Time

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    Tottenham Hotspur's fans have seen some of the best and most amazing players to grace the English game over their incredible 131-year history, but who have been the club's best transfers?

    Spurs fans grow misty-eyed reminiscing about the stars of yesteryear. Legendary players like Glenn Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne, Jimmy Greaves, David Ginola, Ossie Ardiles, Gareth Bale, Dave Mackay, Jurgen Kilnnsmann, Pat Jennings, Steve Perryman and the great Danny Blanchflower have all graced the hallowed White Hart Lane pitch.

    Over 860 men have had the good fortune to play for Spurs and just over 200 players have played over 100 games. Each and every one of these men lived the life that many fans can only dream of, but who have been the club's best ever purchases?

    Here, Bleacher Report offers up Tottenham Hotspur's top five transfer deals of all time.

5. Gareth Bale (2007-2013 £7m from Southampton)

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    Gareth Bale may have some way to go before he makes it into the Tottenham Hotspur's top 10 players of all-time. However, there is little doubt the Welsh star belongs in the club's top 5 transfer deals of all-time.

    Bale joined Spurs in 2007 as a mere 17-year-old for an initial fee of £5 million, as per BBC, with add-ons that would eventually grow to £10 million if certain factors were met. Daniel Levy, however, ever the wily negotiator, took advantage of Southampton's ill financial fortunes and paid an additional £2 million for Bale in 2008, thus making the overall transfer worth just £7 million.

    At the end of the 2012-13 season, Bale transferred to Real Madrid for a staggering world record transfer fee of £86 million, according to the Telegraph. I'm sure you'll agree, a profit of £79 million is pretty good in any man's language.

    But what did Real pay for?

    They paid for a player with power and pace, superb athleticism and supreme technique, guile, craft and incredible work-rate all rolled into one phenomenal 6'0" package.

    Bale started off life slowly at Spurs and only won his first match in a Tottenham shirt after some 24 matches, a 5-0 win over Burnley. It wasn't until 2009, a full two years after joining Spurs, that he actually won his first league match with the club.

    From there, he simply took off. Bale won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award in 2010-11 for the first time and added an incredible personal treble in 2012-13 when he won the PFA, FWA and PFA Young Player awards, as per BBC.

    On his way to superstardom, Bale scored 55 goals in 203 games for Spurs with 38 of those goals coming from his final 86 matches.

4. Ossie Ardiles (1978-1988 £325,000 from Huracan)

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    Ossie Ardiles is, quite rightly, a legend of the English game. The likeable Argentinean joined Spurs just days after winning the World Cup with Argentina in 1978. 

    The story of Ardiles' signing was revealed by Nick Harris in his superb book, the Foreign Revolution, and it illustrates how luck played its part in Spurs signing the Argentinean No. 1. Fun fact: Ardilles wore the No. 1 jersey for Argentina at the World Cup in 1978 in one of the few occasions for an outfield player to don the traditional goalkeeper's number.

    Keith Burkinshaw, the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, was sitting in his office at White Hart Lane a few days after the 1978 World Cup final. He had less than two months to prepare for the start of the new season. Spurs were returning to the First Division after a year away.

    Extract from the Foreign Revolution:

    Bill Nicholson, Burkinshaw’s most eminent predecessor, the man who’d overseen Spurs' glory days of the early 1960s, had joined him for a chat. There was plenty to discuss.

    While they were talking, the phone rang. Nicholson answered it.

    “Hello Bill, it’s Harry Haslam.”

    Haslam, a friend of Burkinshaw, was the manager of Sheffield United.

    “Hello Harry, what can we do for you?” asked Nicholson.

    “Would Keith be interested in signing Osvaldo Ardiles?” said Haslam.

    Nicholson turned around to Burkinshaw.

    “Harry Haslam’s on the phone and he wants to know if you’re interested in signing Osvaldo Ardiles,” he said.

    “Is he pulling your leg or what?” said Burkinshaw.

    A couple of days later, Ardiles and his friend, Ricky Villa, also an Argentinean World Cup winner, joined Spurs for a combined fee of £750,000 in one of the biggest transfer coups of all-time.

    Ardiles went on to play for Spurs for 10 years and made over 250 appearances for Spurs. 

    Graeme Souness told a wonderful story about Ardiles' debut for Spurs, a 7-0 defeat to Liverpool, while working as an analyst for Irish broadcaster RTE during the World Cup in 2010.

    Spurs had endured a torrid start to the campaign while Liverpool sat on top of the table, well on their way to their 11th league title. Ardiles and Villa were put into the team by Burkinshaw to lift confidence and Liverpool wanted to give the two foreign lads a traditional welcome to England.

    Souness, marking the slight-of-frame Ardiles in midfield, wanted to leave his mark on the Argentinean and absolutely buried the Spurs man with his first meaningful tackle of the game. Souness was one of the hardest men in football at the time and was absolutely staggered when Ardiles just brushed off the tackle as if it were nothing. 

    The Scot laughed at the end result, 7-0, but he knew he had come up against a real star that day and Ardiles' attitude and ability shone through over the next 10 years.

    1982 was to prove a very difficult year for Ossie as Argentina invaded Islas Malvinas, the Falklands Islands, and England, his adopted country, went to war with his home country. In Argentina, he was viewed as a traitor for living in England and, in England, he was viewed as a traitor for being Argentinean.

    Spurs let their star midfielder go on loan to FC Paris Saint-Germain for the 1982-83 season. ESPN made a documentary about Ardiles and Villa's time at Spurs during this period entitled White, Blue and White.

    Ardiles went on to manage Spurs, but was less successful. Let's remember him for the playing legend he was and always will be.

3. Jimmy Greaves (1961-1970 £99,999 from AC Milan)

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    When it comes to debating the greatest strikers ever to play in England, Jimmy Greaves is guaranteed to feature in the reckoning.

    Lightning quick with a technique as smooth as silk, Greaves dominated English football's scoring charts while playing at White Hart Lane.

    The likeable other half of Saint and Greavsie made his full debut for Chelsea against Spurs in August 1957 where he duly scored. It was a sign of things to come for the young Essex lad.

    Greaves went on to score an incredible 132 goals in just 169 games for the Pensioners before AC Milan came calling in the summer of 1961. However, the English international played just 14 games before returning home to the English top flight and Bill Nicholson's Spurs.

    Bill Nic signed Greaves for £99,999 in December 1961. The unusual fee came about because Tottenham's legendary manager did not want Greaves to play under the burden of being English football's first £100,000 player, as per Greavsie by Tony Scott.

    Greaves joined Spurs just seven months after becoming the first English team, that century, to win the double. 

    At Spurs, the electric Greaves enhanced his already amazing reputation. He was capable of scoring any type of goal and adapted to all opponents and any situation.

    To say that Greaves was prolific in front of goal would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions.

    He scored 268 goals in 381 games for Spurs. He broke the 30-goal barrier six times in his nine seasons at the club which included an astonishing 44 goals in 49 games in the 1962-63 season. That was also the year he scored five goals in six games in Europe as Spurs became the first English side to win a major European honor.

    Many people wonder why Greaves did not feature in the final for Alf Ramsey's triumphant England side in the 1966 World Cup. Greaves actually played in all three group games against Uruguay, Mexico and France, but a horror tackle from French midfielder, Joseph Bonnel, left him with 14 stitches down his shin and unable to start the following match. 

    Geoff Hurst took Greaves' place and as substitutes were not allowed in 1966 the rest, as they say, is history.

    Greaves helped Spurs to five trophies in five years between 1962 and 1967 and scored some of the greatest goals English football will ever see. He is, not only, one of the best transfer deals of all time, he is one of English football's greatest players of all time.

2. Dave Mackay (1959-1968 £32,000 from Hearts)

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    When it comes to football's hard men, there were few tougher than Dave Mackay.

    It's also worth noting that the great Brian Clough once described Mackay as "the greatest ever Spurs player," as per FourFourTwo magazine. When a man like Clough makes a statement like that, it is more than worth taking note.

    Mackay was one of the greatest midfielders English football has ever produced. Not only was he as tough as old nails, he was one of the most skilful players in the Spurs team. Remember, Mackay played for Spurs in a dominant period between 1959 and 1968.

    The Scot signed for Spurs for £32,000 in March 1959 and became central to all that was good about Bill Nicholson's Spurs team. Mackay was tough and would probably tackle his own grandmother to win the ball. When he did regain possession, he had a superb range of passing and the kind of vision rarely seen in top-flight football.

    Mackay was a complete footballer in every meaning of the word, both on and off the pitch. He dominated the opposition on the pitch and was the dressing room enforcer for Nicholson, even though he was not the club captain.

    He was a ferocious tackler and embodied the tough-tackling style of the 1960s. During his career he actually broke his leg twice and returned as good as ever both times, such was his dedication to return to football.

    On his second return he faced Leeds United and Billy Bremner. Leeds were known as "dirty Leeds" at the time and Bremner wasted no time in welcoming his fellow countryman back into football by clattering him on the same leg he had broken twice previously.

    The end result was a furious Mackay grabbing Bremner by the scruff of the neck and hauling him from the ground. This moment in time was captured in photo-form and remains, to this day, one of the most iconic football pictures of all time.

    Mackay was, if one can imagine such a player, a combination of Roy Keane's determination, drive and tackling ability, and Paul Scholes' guile and artistry. It is safe to say there are no such players in the world today and if there were, they would be priceless.

    Mackay played 318 times for Spurs and is rightly regarded as one of English football's greatest ever midfielders.

1. Danny Blanchflower (1954-1964 £30,000 from Aston Villa)

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    Danny Blanchflower's name is guaranteed to feature at the top of any list regarding Spurs, the most influential men ever to play in English football and the greatest ever players in British football.

    Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Blanchflower played for Glentoran, Barnsley and Aston Villa before joining Tottenham in 1954 for £30,000. Danny's great influence on the game was recognized by all the top clubs. So when he announced he had grown tired of Villa's lack of ambition and was leaving, Spurs and their great rivals Arsenal both bid for the player.

    The Gunners eventually refused to go beyond £28,500 for Blanchflower and he opted for Spurs where he immediately fell in line with the ambitious philosophy and tactics of Arthur Rowe. Spurs were sliding dangerously toward relegation before Blanchflower signed. The transfer fee was massive in 1954, especially for a player of his age, but Danny dealt with the pressure easily and so began a slow revolution.

    Blanchflower was a complete footballer in every sense of the word. He could play in every position and was a supreme motivator and man-manager. He was the perfect choice for captain and the perfect player to build an empire around.

    The Northern Ireland international played in midfield for Spurs where he dictated the ebb and flow of the game through guile, intelligence and craft. He was the thinking-man's footballer in an era where tough tackling and brawn became the de facto starting point for midfield players.

    He played for Spurs for 10 years and appeared 337 times for the club. He was seen by many as the perfect successor to Bill Nicholson when the legendary manager stepped down in 1974 and was even interviewed for the job. Surprisingly, the club chose Terry Neill  who only lasted two years before being replaced by Keith Burkinshaw.

    Blanchflower is recognised as one of the great philosophers of the game. He produced numerous sound bites, quotations and epigrams throughout his time at Spurs but he is, perhaps, best remembered for his "the game is all about glory" quotation, as per 4D Foot:

    The great fallacy is that the game is first and foremost about winning.

    It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory.

    It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.

    Upon the 20th anniversary of his death in April of this year, Jackie Fullerton, a sports broadcaster in Northern Ireland, spoke fondly of the Spurs star to BBC. He said:

    His brains were so sharp, he read the game beautifully and could pick a pass.

    Most footballers kick a ball, but Danny Blanchflower was one of those players who had that class and charisma. He caressed the ball.

    He was a footballer, journalist, philosopher, raconteur, engaging company and a wonderful man.

    Sadly, today there is very little footage of Blanchflower as a player, but he remains one of the most respected footballers in English football history and one of Spurs' greatest ever players and signings.