Tottenham cannot afford another reckless splurge if they cash in on £150m Harry Kane after they blew Gareth Bale’s £86m fee on SEVEN players in 2013… Daniel Levy must sign a worthy successor up front and a leader in defence
- READ: Harry Kane has told Tottenham he wants to leave the club this summer
- The forward would cost upwards of £150m amid interest from City and United
- The club sold Gareth Bale for £86m in 2013 and went on a summer splurge
- But most of those seven signings flopped and Spurs will have learned lessons
- Spurs will not be able to move on from Kane unless they replace him properly
- The man to rebuild could yet be Pochettino, who has told PSG he wants out
The bitter pill of selling your prized asset often comes with the soothing chaser of what follows – money. There will be plenty of that should Tottenham sanction Harry Kane’s exit this summer.
The England captain has joined the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale in growing disillusioned with life in north London – telling the club he wants to leave this summer in a bid to add some trophies to his sparkling CV.
At 27 and freshly crowned as the Premier League’s Golden Boot winner for the third time after his final-day strike against Leicester, Kane is in the prime of his career and time is running out to end it with the honours his talent deserves. Make no mistake that his talent will garner a huge transfer fee, mooted to be around £150million.
Tottenham chief Daniel Levy (left) faces an important decision over Harry Kane this summer
Newly-crowned Golden Boot winner Kane has told the club he wants to leave this summer
Spurs chief Daniel Levy – notoriously a difficult man to negotiate with – will only accept a monumental offer knowing he possesses one of the best strikers in world football who has three years left to run on his contract.
But it’s what Spurs do with that enormous fee that will define how they move on from Kane. In 2013, when Tottenham sold Bale – their best player who had just carried the team through the previous season – their attitude was: throw enough mud at the wall and some will stick.
Instead of learning to live without the Welshman after Real Madrid paid £86m for his signature, Spurs endured a miserable season after splurging all of it on seven new signings to give the squad a new feel going into a new era under boss Andre Villas-Boas.
Splashing out more than £100m, in came Brazilian midfielder Paulinho, Belgian Nacer Chadli, Spanish forward Roberto Soldado, Frenchman Etienne Capoue, Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches, Ajax star Christian Eriksen and Roma starlet Erik Lamela – the priciest at £30m.
Levy must learn from the mistakes of the past, when he went on a summer spending spree after selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £86m in 2013
Seven players were signed to replace him, costing over £100m: (left-right) Paulinho, Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela
‘THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN’
Paulinho (Corinthians, £17m) – left in 2015
Roberto Soldado (Valencia, £26m) – left in 2015
Etienne Capoue (Toulouse, £9m) – left in 2015
Vlad Chiriches (Steaua Bucharest, £8.5m) – left in 2015
Nacer Chadli (Twente, £7m) – left in 2016
Christian Eriksen (Ajax, £11.5m) – left in 2020
Erik Lamela (Roma, £30m) – still at the club
The magnificent seven, they called them. With the exception of Eriksen, they were anything but.
Paulinho – tipped as the Brazilian Frank Lampard – scored on his debut with a backheel. It was probably his greatest contribution. Soldado – who had just scored 26 times for Valencia in LaLiga – was totally uninspired in front of goal.
Capoue struggled to assert himself in the heart of midfield, while Chiriches was nervy in defence and never a sure starter. All four of them were all booted out after just two years.
Chadli – who was actually popular with the fans – left the following year. Only Lamela remains out of the hapless bunch after Eriksen was sold to Inter Milan, and he has massively underwhelmed in his eight years at the club. The Argentine is injury prone and while full of skill has often lacked that cutting edge in the final third.
Soldado and Paulinho arrived with big reputations but failed to gel with the squad
Franco Baldini, Tottenham’s former director of football alongside coach Andre-Villas Boas, was responsible for finding the players
So Tottenham sought to mend the broken hearts of their fans by replacing one man with seven – but Eriksen was the only one who fit the bill. The Dane cost only £11.5m but now leads their all-time assist charts with 63.
Of course, it was a different time for the Lilywhites – back then they were running their transfer business under director of football Franco Baldini, whose work in the role has been widely criticised.
It was a time when Tottenham’s squad was ageing and lacking in depth after a handful of loans, free transfers and bargains pulled off by notorious wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp. Why not use the money – then a world-record fee – to revitalise the team?
The main problem was that the players brought in – while talented – weren’t given enough time to gel with the rest of the team and felt like individuals as a result. Out the other door went Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker and Jermain Defoe – players who knew what it meant to wear the shirt.
Levy will have to carry out his business smartly should he decide to cash in on his talisman
Things are different this time around. Levy has learnt valuable lessons from a period where Spurs were going down the ‘European’ route. Now he works alongside chief scout Steve Hitchen knowing the club have to be smart and precise with their transfer dealings after laying out £1billion on a new stadium.
The Covid pandemic has battered their financial resources and you won’t see a reckless summer spree like 2013 any time soon.
Levy and Hitchen might not have many admirers among the Spurs faithful – many of which have called for both to leave the club – but they have steadily bolstered the squad over the last few seasons, and whoever inherits it will be blessed with a talented group – with or without Kane.
Spurs have a core group that has been building since the Mauricio Pochettino era. Son Heung-min has proven himself to be one of the most electric forwards in world football in recent years, while Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have all been around for years.
The Spurs chief has steadily bolstered the squad and filled it with depth and experience
Kane cost the club nothing and proved to be the most valuable player out of anyone since Bale
There will be a temptation to use the funds on a range of shiny new players, but Levy will resist and look at the areas that need addressing, rather than just buying to make a statement.
The seven that came in were intended as a signal that Tottenham could live without Bale, but instead demonstrated the opposite. Kane – who cost the club nothing and rose from their academy – ended up being the bright spark who lifted the club up again after Bale’s departure.
Now it’s time to be sensible. We shouldn’t forget that Tottenham have a mounting pile of debt from their stadium repayments as well as problems caused by Covid – some of the cash may go towards the club’s coffers.
Levy can’t realistically expect there is another Kane waiting to emerge from the academy, so his first task is to find a direct replacement. Unless Spurs find a way to convince Robert Lewandowski to sign, that will prove to be challenging.
Man City’s Gabriel Jesus (left) and United’s Anthony Martial could be swap options for Spurs
Bale’s two goals on the final day of the season leave Spurs with a tough decision to make
Will he go for the likes of Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus or United’s Anthony Martial? The pair have been linked with Spurs and could be used as makeweights in the Kane deal. Two players who have struggled to shine among a group of superstars may find salvation as Tottenham’s go-to front man.
Sell a player who’s netted you 220 goals across the last seven seasons without replacing him properly at your own peril. Spurs have been reluctant to sign new forwards over the years because every striker has been afraid of playing in Kane’s shadow. Now the limelight is there for the taking.
There is also a big decision to make over Bale, whose return on loan this season has been a curious mixture of a fitness-hit damp squib and an impressive goalscoring record when he did actually play, with his double against Leicester on the final day taking his total to 16 goals in 34 games.
Tottenham hold a first refusal option over another loan deal for Bale. This season’s loan cost the club £13m, and Bale is unlikely to want a return to Madrid – despite the £600,000-a-week wages he picks up there – and a place on the bench.
But it’s not just up front where Spurs will need to look. One of the main areas Jose Mourinho failed to strengthen before his sacking was centre-back. Great Mourinho teams of the past have been defined by strong leaders at the back – John Terry, Ricardo Cavalho, Sergio Ramos and Lucio to name a few.
However, his defence always looked shaky during his tenure after being forced to use players he inherited from the Pochettino era, and they never bought into his methods.
Defence is an area Spurs have failed address for years – the club needs a leader at the back
It’s how Tottenham replace Kane – not how much they spend to replace him – that matters
You only need to look at Manchester City’s signing of Ruben Dias to see how a quality centre-back can take you up a level. Spurs fans who are furious at Levy will have an endless list of players they want to sign and those who should leave this summer, but centre-back and striker have to be the priorities.
Levy will know, too, that he is yet to properly replace Eriksen. Giovani Lo Celso clearly has the quality but hasn’t taken games by the scruff of the neck. Spurs have Dele Alli, who looks rejuvenated after Mourinho’s exit – but is he ready to step up again and be the creative force?
There is so much uncertainty around Tottenham at present. A vacant spot in the dugout, question marks over the direction of the club and Kane’s future to sort out.
What must be clear – for Levy and any coach who takes over the reins – is that it’s not about how much they spend to replace Harry Kane, it’s about how they replace him.
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