How Tottenham Hotspur Could Have Spent the Gareth Bale Windfall Better
Spurs spent the Bale windfall and extra on Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Vlad Chiriches.
Should Spurs have targeted other players?
Signed from Twente for £7 million, per BBC Sport.
What's Gone Wrong?
Nacer Chadli has only started 55 percent of the Premier League games he has been involved in. In the 20 league games Chadli has participated in, he has scored once and registered two assists.
He was hindered by several injuries and has been behind play ever since.
"At the beginning of the season I was struggling with injuries, a few games later, when I was fit again, I got that injury on the hamstrings," Chadli said last December, per Het Laatste Nieuws (h/t Kristof Terreur at Sky Sports). "I'm still missing some stamina to go up front."
When Chadli was at Twente, he had a near telepathic relationship with Dusan Tadic, who would create so much space with incisive passing and his trickery.
Whereas at Spurs, Chadli dribbles blind and seemingly has no one to pass to.
Chadli has immense physical tangibles and he is technically skilled. But he needs better guidance because he is being put in a tough situation by Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood.
"It doesn't matter about formations," Sherwood said, per Ben Pearce at the TottenhamJournal.co.uk. "It's all a load of rubbish."
Sherwood does not care about tactics and formations, hence why he was sitting in the stands during Spurs' 4-0 defeat to Liverpool.
"We've got Nacer Chadli," Sherwood said, per Ben Pearce at the TottenhamJournal.co.uk. "For me his best position is going to be off the front."
What about Christian Eriksen? He is on the left, cutting in and taking up Chadli's space. In reality, Chadli is playing in the position Eriksen should be playing in, but Sherwood is seemingly oblivious to that fact.
Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez should have been signed and converted into a left-winger.
He is so attack-driven that he is essentially a left attacking midfielder.
He has scored and created a combined 12 league goals (five goals, seven assists), second best at Wolfsburg behind centre-forward Ivica Olic (13; 10 goals, three assists).
Rodriguez would have added so much width to Spurs' game on the left flank.
What's Gone Wrong?
Chiriches getting drunk was not professional and if he has aspirations of playing for Chelsea or a European heavyweight, he cannot be taking his body for granted.
"He [Chiriches] was unsteady on his legs by the looks of it; it must have been windy over there," Spurs manager Tim Sherwood said in January, per SBS the World Game. "No [he will not face a fine], he wasn't breaking any rules. He's had a weekend off and he's got to play well on Wednesday."
Wednesday was a reference to Spurs' game against Manchester City.
How did that go? A 5-1 defeat to City.
Forget about the Serie A contending Roma, a team at one point of this season were unbeaten after 19 league games.
Think back to last summer.
What kind of pitch did then-sixth-placed Roma give to Mehdi Benatia to convince him to sign with them in the last summer transfer window?
If Spurs technical director Franco Baldini could get Erik Lamela to leave Roma for Spurs, you would assume Benatia could have been persuaded to sign with Spurs.
Chiriches is a work in progress while Benatia is a world-class player, who has been a major reason why Roma have only conceded 15 goals in 30 league games.
Signed from Toulouse for £9 million, per BBC Sport.
What's Gone Wrong?
Injuries aside, Capoue's biggest obstacle is Nabil Bentaleb, a 6'2" 19-year-old Algerian international with high upside.
Bentaleb passes the ball smoothly, he has good positional awareness and he is doing well in his debut season as a top-flight professional, despite critics pointing out that Bentaleb is heavily favoured by Spurs manager Tim Sherwood.
Maybe Capoue was so insistent on leaving Spurs a few months into his tenure was because he found out he had been signed as a squad player.
He is a leader on the field who wants to dictate the tempo of play and be a pivotal figure in midfield.
Being reduced to just another player in the team and a fill-in centre-back is a waste of £9 million.
What Spurs should have done was promoted Bentaleb and not signed Capoue.
What's Gone Wrong
Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood.
No one expects Sherwood to be England's answer to Gusztav Sebes or Rinus Michels, but to consistently misuse Christian Eriksen will go down as one of the most baffling managerial decisions in Premier League history.
Harry Kane (3-1 defeat to Benfica) and Nacer Chadli (various recent games) have all started in a free-roaming central role ahead of Eriksen, who is shunted out wide on paper.
What do you mean on paper?
If you check the average positioning of Eriksen, it is central, therefore for parts of the game he and Chadli are in the same zone and the left flank is vacant.
Eriksen is Spurs' best player and it is unbelievable the team is not built around him.
Eriksen has scored five times and created four goals in the Premier League while being a consistent creative outlet for the side.
He has done remarkably well in spite of Sherwood.
Eriksen could become a Spurs great.
Signed from Corinthians for £17 million, per Sky Sports.
What's Gone Wrong?
Andre Villas-Boas being sacked and Tim Sherwood being elevated into a full-time position has left Paulinho on the outer looking in.
"The language is the most complicated thing as I am lazy about studying," Paulinho said, per Globo Esporte (h/t ESPN). "I understand the team rotation because that's how it works here, but I am not feeling well or comfortable. I want to be present, I want to play."
Villas-Boas could communicate with Paulinho, whereas the Brazilian's English is not good enough to understand what Sherwood wants.
Paulinho's 14.3 shots per goal and two assists from 1,013 passes are woefully inefficient when you factor in his box-to-box running.
He gets himself into good positions but he just isn't producing the end product.
Signing Paulinho was an excellent move because Villas-Boas, the manager at the time, speaks Portuguese.
Sandro would help Paulinho adjust to life in London and he was an important member of the Brazilian national team.
Paulinho had won the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup with Corinthians and was the bronze ball recipient at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Spurs were signing an in-form player, who had a playing style which could transition to the Premier League.
Once he improves his English exponentially in the offseason and takes a mental break from football, he will be back next season to justify his transfer fee.
Signed from Valencia for £26 million, per the Guardian.
What's Gone Wrong?
At the start, Roberto Soldado was being denied service from his Tottenham Hotspur teammates as Andros Townsend was gunning for glory and Paulinho had the green light to shoot on sight.
In fact, Townsend (2.6) and Paulinho (2.4) still average more shots per game than Soldado (2.1) in the Premier League.
Now, Soldado is just misfiring and that open-goal miss against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk sums up his season.
Why has Soldado been a flop in the Premier League at this present moment?
Well, 28 Premier League players have scored more goals (seven) than Soldado (six). In fact, Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel has scored the same amount of goals as Soldado.
Soldado's wife suffering a miscarriage, per Ben Burrows at the Mirror, presumably means family life has not been smooth for him.
In Soldado's desperations to contribute, he has gone away from his goal-poaching style. He is dropping back and trying to create goals and at times is a quasi-playmaker.
He has five league assists this season (he had seven in his last two seasons for Valencia).
Though, 11 total goals (six goals, five assists) in 26 Premier League games is ineffective.
Benteke is a physical phenom, who is a proven scorer in the Premier League and while he has fluffed some easy goalscoring opportunities, he would not have needed the time to adjust like Soldado.
Plus Benteke is five years younger than Soldado, so the Belgian has more upside.
Signed from Roma for £25.8 million, per the Telegraph.
What's Gone Wrong?
- Erik Lamela does not speak English and has struggled to adapt to the English culture, according to former Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas, per David Hytner at the Guardian.
- Lamela does not have a compatriot in the Tottenham Hotspur squad, yet Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa came to Spurs as a pair in 1978, per Spurs' official website.
- Neither Villas-Boas or Tim Sherwood rate Lamela enough to be a week in, week out starter.
- Lamela wanted to return to Serie A in the January transfer window, according to his father, per Football Italia.
- Lamela has had thigh and back problems, per Sky Sports.
Lamela has yet to score a goal in nine Premier League games and you would assume watching his former club Roma play so well in Serie A would be psychologically tormenting for him.
Going for FC Zenit's Hulk should have been a priority because Villas-Boas is so enamoured with the Brazilian that the Portuguese manager is now managing Zenit.
To quote a Zenit fan, per Michael Yokhin at ESPN FC: "They have found a coach [Villas-Boas] for Hulk, now it's time to sign coaches for each of the other players."
Would Hulk have been the most economically efficient option for Spurs? Of course not.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Saint-Etienne would have been an ideal target: fast, skillful, can play as a No. 9 or No. 11.
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