Why Tottenham could learn from Rafa Benitez

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Tottenham fans could be forgiven for wincing at the sight of yet another Gareth Bale article. The doom and gloom of the Spanish and British propaganda machines has overshadowed what should be the most optimistic of summers for the Premier League club. Indeed it wasn’t long ago that Spurs were touted as potential title challengers, but now instead optimism has been replaced by pessimistic hysteria at the thought of losing their superstar. Can Spurs weather the Bale-Storm?

In whatever way this saga pans out I truly believe that Spurs can only gain from the situation. Retain their best player in years and have the focal point for a title push, lose him for a world record fee and have tens of millions of pounds to reinvest and improve. Spurs fans need only look at the model Napoli have set forth to attain some kind of hope from a situation portrayed so negatively by much of the worlds media.

Benitez arrived on Italian shores burdened with the task of rebuilding after the high profile loss of €64m man Edinson Cavani to PSG. The transfer exodus from Napoli is not too dissimilar to that of Spurs having lost Ezequiel Lavezzi as well the previous season again to the French champions. With the despondency of losing key players, comes inherent excitement in equal measure. Benitez has been given a perceived free reign on replacing star players, hence the distinctly Spanish flavour to incomings, leading many to suggest Napoli may well end up better equipped following Cavani’s departure.

The most significant of purchases was the direct replacement for Cavani, and in €40m ex-Real Madrid striker Higuain they look to have captured exactly that. It will not be easy to fill the vacated boots of the Uruguayan, but Higuain’s goal tally of just under 100 goals in 5 La Liga seasons makes him as close to a ready replacement as is available. The fee from the Cavani deal has gone even further to allow Benitez to sculpt a side able to fully implement his desired 4-2-3-1 system. Raul Albiol has been added to sure up the backline, whilst the additions of Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon give Napoli the frontline firepower for a dart at Serie A honours next year.

Of course no one can fully predict how next season will pan out for Napoli under Benitez. What is clear to anyone is that the sale of Cavani has enabled Benitez to radically overhaul a stagnating squad and give it new life. The faith placed in the Spaniard by President Di Laurentiis may well be burdening, but it also gives the Partenopei a genuine opportunity to kick start an Italian revolution.

So would Spurs ever be able to replicate Benitez’s early Napoli activities? A major issue that this hinges on is the owner’s propensity to reinvest the fee from any potential Bale deal. With a stadium looming in the near future it is possible that ENIC would see fit to invest the money in that project as opposed to player recruitment. Again this is win-win for the club as a whole, although possibly not appeasing the desire for instant gratification amongst many fans. However, having seen spurs already shell out nearly £25m on Paulinho and Chadli, with a Soldado deal reported as being imminent, this figure could easily eclipse the £50m mark by the middle of the month. My inkling is that Spurs are looking to give Baldini and Villas-Boas the freedom to reshape before the potential Bale deal materialises. Early and ambitious spending is not typical of Levy era Tottenham, and as such adds substance to suggestions that the Welsh winger could yet leave this year. So how do you replace a man like Gareth Bale?

The answer is you simply cannot. World Class players like Bale and Cavani are categorised as such because they can do things that others can only dream about. Their value to potential suitors is in their unique abilities, which separate them from the rest of the world’s crop of talent. Just because there is not another Bale out there does not necessarily mean his sale would be terminal for any Spurs title push. There are a number of players that are potentially available this summer that would offer Spurs something wholly different to what they currently possess. Erik Lamela’s name has been bandied around possibly due to the Baldini-Roma link. Lamela would be an ideal replacement for Bale, comfortable playing out wide in a 4-3-3 system he has a degree of attacking flair and end product which is comparable to the welsh winger. Hardly the same player, but at 21 has the potential to grow into something of a star for Spurs whilst only representing a fraction of the fee Madrid could potentially pay for Bale.

The point is that whatever fee you want to believe Bale could leave for, his departure would represent a huge opportunity for the club. The Villas-Boas/Baldini partnership represents possibly the most financial and tactically shrewd partnership in years. If Levy and co are willing to entrust any possible income to these two I can only see the club being better in footballing terms for it.

Could the sale of Bale make Spurs a better team?

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1 comment

  • Wilson says:

    Agree with this article, Napoli’s team seems to be shaping up very nicely and Spursunder AVB could really challenge for a Champions League place provided Bale does not go. A lot of other teams have invested a lot of money into new players, Chelsea, Man City etc so it would be hard for Spurs to get top 4 without re-investment.

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