Long ago seem the days when Gareth Bale was setting the Premier League alight with Tottenham Hotspur. The Welsh superstar’s metoric rise to fame at White Hart Lane made some Spurs fans believe that they were on the verge of claiming their first piece of league success since 1961. The dream was short lived, however, as their talismanic striker yearned for greener pastures in Madrid. The transfer of Bale to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 left Spurs with a gaping hole in their squad, but an additional £80 million had been added to their summer war chest.
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to find a direct replacement for such a star, and the timing of the record-breaking transfer left Tottenham with little to no time to bring in proper reinforcements. The reinvestment of this massive transfer fee saw Daniel Levy and Tottenham bring in the likes of Christian Eriksen (£11 million), Érik Lamela (£25 million), Nacer Chadli (£7 million), Paulinho (£17 million), Vlad Chiriches (£9.5 million), Roberto Soldado (£26 million) and Étienne Capoue (£9.3 million). Despite this massive spending spree and the glut of new names coming into the squad, Spurs still slipped down to a sixth place finish in the league for the 2013/14 season, one spot lower than they finished with Bale the year before. Now, looking at that list of players, only three of the seven players are still in the Tottenham system, and only two of those players consistently find themselves in the starting 11.
The failure for the majority of these signings to live up to expectations have been offset by the rise of two new stars in the squad. One of those summer additions, Christian Eriksen, is now considered one of the elite midfielders in the Premier League, and his composure and passing ability in the center of the park has apparently attracted interest from nearly every major league in Europe. The other budding star came from within. Harry Kane, a product of Spurs’ academy, burst onto the scene last season; scoring a team-high 21 goals. Now, Kane has reportedly caught the eye of one of England’s biggest clubs, Manchester United, and has promptly had a £50 million price tag slapped on to him. These two young stars (average age 22.5) provide Tottenham with the all-important star factor, and their play could soon make fans forget about Bale.
Since his move to White Hart Lane in 2013, Christian Eriksen has made over 65 appearances for Spurs, the most out of those seven summer signings. The Danish midfielder also notched ten assists and banged in 17 goals during his first two seasons in London. The full impact that Eriksen has on a match cannot truly be appreciated when it comes to statistics, however, as he brings an intangible creativity in the heart of the midfield. The 23-year-old’s ability to improvise and find space allows him to pick out passes few others could. Eriksen can do more than pass as his goal scoring record shows. It appears as if the Dane is most dangerous from distance with his pinpoint free kicks and his finessed efforts on the edge of the box. This combination of passing prowess and goal scoring threat make Eriksen an invaluable part of the Spurs midfield, and it’s no wonder why so many teams are hot on his trail.
A good midfielder can only do so much if he doesn’t have a good forward to feed. Luckily for Eriksen and Spurs’ fans, they have one of the league’s best in Harry Kane. The 21-year-old was nearly unknown before his breakout campaign last year, but now he has become one of the most watched players in the league. Kane’s combination of great positional awareness, brute strength and ability to shoot from distance make him as close to a complete striker that you can get. If you watch his goals from last season, there seems to be an even distribution of tap-ins, headed efforts, and highlight reel shots from outside the box. It’s yet to be seen whether or not Kane will succeed in this latest romp in the league (he’s yet to score in Tottenham’s opening four matches), but plenty of expectations have been put on the young man’s back.
As well as Kane and Eriksen perform on the field; it’s for nothing if Spurs cannot convince them to spurn the interest of other suitors to keep hold of their prized players. This summer, it appears as if their resolve was tested for both players as Juventus had reported interest in Eriksen, while Manchester United were keen to play Harry Kane alongside his compatriot Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford. If Spurs finally decides to relent in their efforts to hold on to these two stars, fans can be assured that club chairman Daniel Levy will make sure the club gets more than a fair price in return. No matter how much the club can recoup with these potential sales, it’s hard to imagine a winning club that consistently loses its stars. In order for Tottenham to regain a spot in the Champions League and eventually claim some silverware, they will have to start eradicating the selling culture of the club. The retention of players like Kane and Eriksen in years to come will serve as the driving force for increased success, and with it, a greater attraction for fellow top players to play at White Hart Lane.