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Real Madrid, Gareth Bale and why it’s not just about the football

At the Santiago Bernabeu, the stage is literally set for what could be the unveiling of the world’s most-expensive footballer. Gareth Bale’s proposed move from Tottenham to Real Madrid has understandably monopolised recent back pages as fans await the conclusion of a transfer saga that has left many questioning the financial implications of the reported £85 million deal.

Aside from the moral qualms many have about such an astronomical figure, most fans have been left querying whether Bale is worth the record-breaking fee. The Welshman is a phenomenal footballer on a par with other Premier League heavyweights; Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Yet these players aren’t nearly attracting the astronomical figures to their names as Bale. Robin van Persie, last season’s top goalscorer, was bought for a measly £22.5 million last year. One of the finest all-round English players of the last decade, Wayne Rooney, was only recently valued at a mere £25 million by Chelsea. Luis Suarez, scorer of 30 goals last season, has attracted massive offers from Arsenal but that famous 40 million and a one pound pales in comparison to the reported Bale fee.

The residing question then is this: what exactly are Madrid up to? Gareth Bale is undoubtedly a superb footballer. Not even the most ardent of Arsenal fans would question that. For club and country, the midfielder scored 31 goals last term. He single-handedly won games for his team in sublime fashion on more than a handful of occasions. These are facts that nobody can deny. They are also facts that fans of Manchester United (Rooney and van Persie) and Liverpool can boast of their stars yet no record transfer fee hangs over the heads of these players. Real Madrid president Florentine Perez obviously sees value in the Welshman and is willing to part with £85 million to prove it.

Real Madrid are no strangers to blockbuster signings. In 2001 it was Zinedine Zidane (a then world record £45.6 million). In 2009, it was Kaka (another world record of around £56m) and then Cristiano Ronaldo (yet another world record fee of £80 million). At a cheaper, but no less significant, level they signed David Beckham from Manchester United in 2003 for £24.5 million.

Real Madrid is unashamedly a brand and each of the players mentioned slotted perfectly into the on-going mission to solidify the Galácticos as the largest global brand in football. Through sponsorships and worldwide touring Madrid have become the most recognised football club on the planet.

Gareth Bale

With Beckham they acquired Europe’s most valuable sporting personality. From the very beginning of his Spanish adventure David Beckham was helping his new club recoup the money they had dished out on him – even his medical was sponsored by a health-care firm. Add this to multi-million pound Adidas deal to match Madrid’s and a merchandising agreement that reportedly had Beckham handing 50% of his personal sponsorship earnings to Madrid then it is safe to say that the Spanish giants have an idea of how to spend money to make money.

‘Brand Madrid’ seek players that are able to enhance not just their on-field success but also that off it. Jose Mourinho’s managerial credentials need no clarification yet he was considered surplus to requirements at Madrid as his controversial antics were just not in keeping with the angelic sheen of the nine-time European Cup winners. When Mourinho was seen to poke then Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye the Spanish press called it ‘deplorable’. Not an image football’s biggest commercial club wished to convey.

Madrid were often linked to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez this summer, a player with statistics that at times outshine Bale’s, yet this interest never gathered any momentum and it can only be assumed that this is down to the tainted image of the Uruguayan. Like Mourinho, Suarez is capable of too much brand-damaging controversy to justify spending such amounts of money regardless of his talent.

Just a quick glance at Real Madrid’s history of signings provides a clearer picture of why they are willing to spend such an enormous amount on a clean-cut, fresh faced, superstar in the making. In Bale, Madrid have a young star in the making that they will be able to mould and shape to fit their own needs. In Madrid, Bale has a platform to expand his own brand. It was not so long that it was revealed Bale was attempting to trademark his heart-shaped goal celebration – he is clearly aware of the benefits of building his own brand beyond the game and the benefits of a Madrid move will not be lost on the 24-year-old.

Even on a brand-building level, Bale at such a price will still be seen as a gamble for Madrid. Unlike, Zidane, Kaka, Ronaldo or Beckham, he is not a pre-packaged global star just waiting to become a shirt-selling machine. He doesn’t yet transcend sport like, say, Beckham did. The more cynical of supporters will assume the long drawn-out pursuit of Bale by Madrid is merely a clever marketing ploy to allow the world time to catch up and get to know the world’s most expensive footballer-elect before the eventual finalities are complete.

Simply by being attached to such lucrative and high-profile transfers in recent history, Real Madrid have ensured their names in both the history books and newspapers all around the world; the Gareth Bale situation is no different. Madrid are being talked about by football fans and non-fans alike the world over, and that is just the way the like it as the brand continues to flourish with the latest star commodity preparing his keepy-up skills for the big Bernabeu reveal.

by Jack Poland

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Should Tottenham, Liverpool or Chelsea be looking at Swansea target Wilfried Bony?

Swansea have been doing exemplary business in the transfer market over the last few years, their headline-grabbing £2m capture of Michu the one that really caught the attention. With that in mind, as Swansea look to be ever closer to signing striker Wilfried Bony from Vitesse Arnhem, the obvious question is; are they getting more quality that clubs at the top of the league should be looking at themselves? In the same way that surely Michu’s 20+ goals could have been of use to Spurs or Liverpool last season if they’d known about him. Perhaps Swansea are sneaking through another bargain signing under the noses of clubs that need a striker.

Bony is, at 24, about to really hit his prime. Last season he scored 31 goals in 30 games in the Eredivisie. Now, that in and of itself is not an indicator for success in the Premier League. However, when comparing Bony to other goal filled strikers who have failed elsewhere, notably Afonso Alves at Middlesbrough, it’s important to see why he is different. The most successful Dutch league exports are those possessed of physical talent, as well as technical ability. Alves and Luuk de Jong for example, struggled because their relative physical talent was no more than average at a higher standard. Uis Suarez and Ruud van Nistelrooy possessed the football intelligence and raw ability to succeed when stepping up.

Wilfried Bony

Bony is an elite physical specimen. He’s 6ft tall, very quick and strong and has elite balance and spring. It means that not only can he burn away from players when running, he can also more than handle himself in the physical battles. This makes him ideally suited to the Premier League. His canny runs on the shoulder of the last defender were supplied by soon-to-be Chelsea youngster Marco van Ginkel. At Swansea he will have Pablo Hernandez, Michu and possibly a re-signed Jonathan De Guzman picking him out. He could be this summer’s Michu for them. But, should Spurs, Liverpool or Chelsea be having a look?

There’s no question all three clubs are in the market for striking reinforcements. Of the three, Chelsea are probably the least likely spot, but, if they are signing van Ginkel, and considering they have a great relationship with Vitesse, they might want to reunite them in blue. However, with Lukaku, Schurrle, Torres and Ba already at the club, they seem to be trying to sign a proven world-class player like Edinson Cavani rather than another prospect.

Spurs would be a great fit. They want to upgrade on Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, and Bony could well prove to be that. At this stage he’s not really in a position to start every game ahead of those two straight away, but Andre Villas-Boas is an excellent coach and would perhaps feel like he could mould the physically talented Bony in to a complete forward in due course. He’d make great sense for Spurs if they are willing to be patient and let him develop.

Liverpool is an interesting destination for Bony. It seems the Luis Suarez saga has gone quiet at the moment and with the assumption that he will leave now almost taken for granted. But there hasn’t been much news on his possible move. If Liverpool do manage to keep Suarez then Bony isn’t an option. However, Liverpool are trying to build a team to win the league in two years, not this year. This is why they are signing younger, technically talented players that Brendan Rodgers can coach up. Bony has the pace that Rodgers covets and would be able to push Daniel Sturridge to earn the long-term striker role rather than just have it granted to him.

At Swansea Bony would be the starter. They would be signing him in the expectation that he can score 20 goals, which he certainly has the talent to do. Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea could do worse than look at what Swansea are up to and see whether they rate him as a long-term option.

Why Paulinho should choose Tottenham over Real Madrid

Tottenham and Real Madrid seem intertwined this summer when it comes to the transfer market. We all know about the Gareth Bale saga but recently Real have also emerged as suitors for Spurs’ midfield target, the Brazilian Paulinho. It looks increasingly like Paulinho may choose Spurs, and if he does it would be an excellent decision. Not only that, but perversely for Spurs’ fans he would actually be doing Real Madrid a favour if he decides to move to London. With Real Madrid making big statements about Bale having to request a transfer and previous tension over similar tactics with Luka Modric last year, Spurs losing Paulinho to Real would near enough set Bale’s future at Spurs in stone. If Real pinched what looks like Spurs’ number one transfer target, it would only harden the already tough resolve of chairman Daniel Levy to keep his star Welshman.

Paulinho

As far as Paulinho is concerned though, a move to Spurs is a better idea than Madrid. Paulinho needs to be playing first-team football in this year of the Brazilian World Cup to keep his place in the team. He’ll get that at Spurs, but not necessarily at Real Madrid. At Spurs, the only player of a similar type is Mousa Dembele. Paulinho drives through midfield with authority, has a nice range of passing and has also shown that he can score goals as well as being defensively tenacious. He is a complete modern midfielder, able to do everything Spurs need of him in the Premier League. It would depend on what system Spurs are going to be playing next year as to whether he is in a two or three man midfield, but he has all the tools to play with Sandro and Dembele is some combination. He would immediately become the main man, the guaranteed starter.

At Real Madrid this would not be the case. Real’s personnel means they are likely to play a 4-2-3-1 system in which Paulinho would have to compete for one of the two spots deep in midfield. Real already have Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric that they are struggling to find game time for. As the new man Paulinho would probably start at the back of that particular queue and may not be able to force himself in to view in the major games. The glamour of Real Madrid is an enticing prospect, but the reality can be very harshly different. When even the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil are struggling to get in to the first team despite years of Champions League experience, it will be hard for Paulinho to swan straight in to the side.

Spurs are trying to show that they are serious about getting in to the top four once more. Over the last few years they have made some real quality signings for good value. However, this summer it is important that they are making the signings without having to sell anyone. Although he hasn’t shown any sign of wanting to leave, it is still vital that Spurs show Bale that they are doing everything they can to get back to the Champions League, and Paulinho would be a great start.

Is Alvaro Negredo an option for Tottenham?

It speaks for the quality that Spain have in their squad that Alvaro Negredo is currently their fourth choice striker. Last season he scored 31 goals and also has two more 20+ goal seasons in the last few years. At 6’1” he has good size, and as you might expect of a Spaniard, excellent touch and technique. It is these qualities that have seen him catch the attention of Spurs, and plenty of other clubs around Europe. Having seen Sevilla sell Jesus Navas, he has told the club that he wants to leave in order to play in the Champions League. With big Champions League clubs with space for a new striker thin on the ground, Spurs should not be intimidated of making a move for him.

Spurs need a goalscoring striker more than anything. The inconsistency of Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor is one of the reasons they couldn’t quite get in to the top four last season. They both have their strengths and at times scored spectacular goals, but neither of them are consistent. Neither can be relied upon to get the club in to the Champions League. They need less of the spectacular and more of the consistent, the clinical. This is where Negredo fits in. He doesn’t have the raw pace of Defoe or genial feet of Adebayor, but he is a relentless goal scorer. He scored 17 goals in 20 league games for Sevilla in 2013 including four, three and two-goal outbursts. This is exactly the kind of reliability Spurs need.

Alvaro Negredo

Unlike some other options Spurs have been linked with, Negredo is no one-season wonder. In the 2010/11 season he scored 29 goals and in 2008/09 he scored 21. In between he got 14 and 15 goals respectively. So even on a relative down year he’d still have been the second highest scorer at Spurs last season. He has good size and strength for the Premier League, having played most of his career as a lone front man in front of three attacking midfielders, which is exactly what Spurs would need him to do.

Sevilla don’t sell cheaply but a bid of £20m would give them a big decision to make. Although they are not desperate to sell, they have always been willing to for the right price. Navas was sold to City and they sold Sergio Ramos to Real Madrid for big money. It’s a lot of money for Spurs to be paying but if they have serious intentions of keeping Gareth Bale and getting in to the Champions League, they need to make moves like this. Negredo doesn’t have the raw physical talent of a Christian Benteke or Leandro Damiao but Spurs have been down the athlete route many times before. They just need someone to put the ball in the net from the endless supply provided by Gareth Bale.

Of course, this sort of quality won’t go unnoticed. Negredo has made it clear he wants Champions League football but that somewhat limits his potential landing spots. Atletico Madrid are known admirers and are looking to replace Radamel Falcao. There’s a possibility that a sale of Robert Lewandowski could see Borussia Dortmund attracted but beyond that, short of a move to Russia, the Champions League options are limited. Although there is one other Premier League club who could be a dark horse. If Chelsea miss out on all of their other targets they can’t be discounted.

However, Spurs are in a very strong position to attract Negredo. It’s pretty much a fight between them and Atletico in all likelihood and the prospect of being crossed to by Gareth Bale should be an enticing one.

Tottenham to sign Barcelona’s Afellay?

Amongst the list of forwards and attacking midfielders at Barcelona, one-time Dutch wonderboy Ibrahim Afellay is not the first you would name. He might not even be in the top five or even ten, but this only reflects on the strength Barcelona have in that department rather than being a slight on his qualities. He’s apparently on Spurs’ radar, as much for what he has shown previously because over the last two seasons he has suffered two major injuries and thus not even played 20 games.

A cruciate ligament tear at the start of the 2011/12 season curtailed what had been a positive start to life at the Camp Nouwhere he’d made 21 appearances after arriving in January 2011. At the time his move was considered something of a surprise as he seemed destined for first team football elsewhere but he managed to force his way in to the team and kept his spot with his extreme pace, trickery and direct running. Even back then Pep Guardiola was concerned about his team being one paced, and Afellay was purchased to add the kind of speed they didn’t really have. His potential importance to the team as a pace outlet was dampened when the club spent over £30m to get Alexis Sanchez in the summer of 2011, thus putting another obstacle in Afellay’s path.

Ibrahim Afellay

Despite this there was still optimism about his chances but a cruciate ligament rupture in pre-season saw him sit out the entire 2011/12 season. When Guardiola moved on, the new manager Tito Vilanova placed much less of an emphasis on pace, as Barcelona moved back to their roots of fluid movement and ball retention with players trained at La Masia. It pretty much made Afellay a bench warmer at best so despite his impressive early flashes he was loaned out to Schalke. After a decent enough start he was injured in November and out for the rest of the season once more.

So why should Spurs be interested in someone so injury prone? Well, the key is the talent he possesses. Afellay got his move to Barcelona having enjoyed a 13-goal season in Holland and was in red hot form on a run of seven goals in 19 games in the season in which they signed him. His combination of speed, smoothness, trickery and goal threat made him a great prospect, desired around Europe.

Afellay is best when played wide on the left in a 4-2-3-1 type system where he has the freedom to roam centrally as well as using his pace to outstrip full backs and get crosses in. The one flaw in his game historically is that his assists totals aren’t great. He tends to do things a full speed all the time which can lead to some imprecision and frustration but also spells of devastation.

With or without Bale in the side, Spurs still need pace on the left. Moving Bale centrally was a great decision but they necessarily lost the width he provides on the left. Spurs should be planning the squad on the assumption that they will have Bale next season and so signing a player who would allow Bale to remain central could be key. Afellay has injury concerns certainly, but so did Rafael van der Vaart when he arrived. If they can get him fit and use him properly he could be a real bargain. It’s a big if considering his injury history but an intriguing option nonetheless.

Tottenham’s AVB to PSG? Should he stay or should he go? It all depends on Bale

Real Madrid are not going to be popular with Spurs fans this summer. Not only are they actively courting their star man Gareth Bale but they may now also be responsible for them losing their manager Andre Villas-Boas. Real’s first choice to succeed Jose Mourinho as manager is PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti, and Ancelotti hasn’t hidden his desire to take up the offer. If he goes, PSG will need a new manager, and with their own first choice Guus Hiddink committing to another season in Russia the French champions have turned their attention to Villas-Boas. It is conceivable that Real Madrid may even cost Spurs both Bale and AVB. In fact, one may cause the other.

Andre Villas-Boas came to Spurs last summer with plenty to prove after his disastrous spell at Chelsea ended in disarray and sacking. He had been the hottest managerial name in Europe in the summer of 2011, fresh from an unbeaten and Europa League winning season with Porto and as one of the Jose Mourinho stable he had impeccable pedigree. However, by 2012 his reputation was sullied, seemingly unable to impose himself on the Chelsea dressing room that he had once been a mere analyst to. It was therefore a big leap of faith from Spurs to appoint him, and to essentially sack Harry Redknapp in order to do so. He was very grateful to the club for trusting him and he repaid them with fifth place and a points total that would have guaranteed Champions League qualification in most seasons. He took Gareth Bale from star to megastar and helped turn Jan Vertonghen in to one of the signings of the season. He did a great job at Spurs, and his reputation is quickly regathering, particularly in light of his work with Bale.

André Villas-Boas

This has made him a desirable proposition for PSG. They have their own burgeoning megastar in Lucas Moura who they will feel AVB can teach and coach up in the way he did with Bale. PSG invested nearly £40m in the young Brazilian so they need to get the most out of him and AVB has shown he can do that. The other reason they are turning to him is that they are very big on the ‘project’ in Paris. They want a long-term manager and they want him to win them multiple Champions League titles. Well, Villas-Boas is only 35 and has already shown he can win a European trophy, so he is a very logical choice. PSG play a 4-2-3-1 system, which is what Spurs used last year, so PSG wouldn’t need to overhaul the personnel either. It all makes sense.

The pros to staying at Spurs are that if Bale stays he has one of the best players in the world at his disposal. His job is under absolutely no threat, the club seem willing to commit money to him in the transfer market and they gave him his opportunity to return to management at a major club. He may feel a sense of loyalty.

The cons to staying at Spurs mostly revolve around Bale. If Spurs sell him then despite pocketing a massive transfer fee they would have sold one of the top five players in the world. It’s all well and good signing decent replacements in different positions, but without Bale it will be much harder to get in to the Champions League. This could be something AVB feels he can’t achieve at Spurs. With such congestion at the top of the Premier League, seven teams to fit in to four, three will always miss out and more often than not Spurs would likely be in that three without Bale.

The pros of going to PSG are that he will have a ton of money at his disposal, far more than Spurs could offer. He also would be taking over a better team. Spurs have three elite players, but PSG have twice that. They are near enough guaranteed to get in to the Champions League every year, which then gives him an opportunity to win it. PSG seem willing to be patient with a manager.

The cons to moving to PSG are that the club has only had success so far. If, as is likely, they struggle to make an impact on the market this year despite their money and don’t progress in Europe the patience of the ownership would be tested. They haven’t had to experience a negative outcome yet. If he did fail he would have failed at two of the richest clubs in the world, pretty much ending his chances of getting another go somewhere else.

It would be a big decision for AVB to make. If Spurs keep Gareth Bale and add to their squad he should stay. No one in the Premier League has a player like Bale so with the right additions they could even compete to win the league. If they sell Bale he should go to PSG where he would have more chance at winning regularly.

Christian Benteke – Tottenham, Arsenal or Liverpool?

Last summer Aston Villa bought Christian Benteke for £7m from Genk, a move that even Belgian football pundits thought fraught with risk. Now, they have one of the most desirable players in the Premier League, who is being linked with Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool. They have been attracted by his prototypical physique, speed, power, goals, heading ability and the fact that he improved so quickly last season. So if Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool are the domestic suitors, where would be best for him to go to? Or would he better off staying at Villa?

Spurs are being linked most strongly with Benteke of the three so are a logical place to start. There is no doubt, and precious little secrecy about Spurs’ summer priority and that is to sign an upgrade on their current strikers. They have been linked with Leandro Damiao, Jackson Martinez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Benteke most prominently. There is an obvious theme to all of these; physical presence combined with ruthless finishing. In other words, they want a hybrid of what they currently have. They want the power and pace of Adebayor with the finishing of Jermain Defoe.

What all of these options have in their favour is consistency, but what makes Benteke such an intriguing option is that he has done it consistently in the Premier League. He has already shown that he can score goals against the opposition Spurs will have to overcome to get back in to the top four. Now, despite his improvements, he is still very raw. There is real doubt as to whether he is quite ready to lead a team to the top four and the idea of Spurs signing him depends of Gareth Bale’s future. If Spurs sell Bale they can’t sign Benteke to be their main man. He is not ready to be that figurehead at the top of the league. If they keep Bale, then Benteke would be a great option. Spurs are Bale’s team, so if he stays Benteke can play and learn and improve without the pressure of carrying them on his back. He would have a dream supply line to help him find his feet.

Christian Benteke

Arsenal have also been linked to Benteke but it is unclear whether the Emirates would be the best landing spot for him. Arsenal play a different style of football to Spurs, where the striker is more involved in the build-up play. At Spurs he would be allowed to roam the penalty box as he was at Villa. At Arsenal he would need to be more sophisticated and versatile, and at this stage he is not ready to be that. Spurs bombard the box with crosses, Arsenal do not. They have got a big penalty box man in Olivier Giroud, supposedly to offer a different dimension but most of Arsenal’s goals still came with passing or quick counter attacking which is more reliant on the attacking midfielders. Benteke has more potential than Giroud, but at this stage is at best a minor upgrade. Arsenal seem to readying bids for players like Stevan Jovetic, who carry an expectation of a title challenge. They would be better off spending big money on a world-class striker for the time being.

Liverpool have supposedly joined the race on the basis that Luis Suarez could be leaving. But, since the arrival of Daniel Sturridge, Suarez has played either in behind or out left, his old Ajax position. Sturridge is the striker that Brendan Rdogers believes in. He wants three tricky attackers in behind a quick goal-scoring striker. He seems to be prioritising adding a third option to Philippe Coutinho and Iago Aspas rather than striker. There’s a possibility that Sturridge could be moved wide right but that’s not why he was bought. Benteke’s role at Anfield is undefined.

Villa will of course, not let him go lightly, if at all. The problem for any club trying to buy him will be finding a fee that Villa find acceptable. He’s probably worth £15m or so, given his raw talent and goal output, but he is worth more than that to Villa. If they sell him, who are they replacing him with? He was singlehandedly responsible for them staying up last season so selling him would be a huge risk. The best solution for Villa would be to keep him for this season, and if he’s scored another 20+ goals he will be worth £20m, and more. There is no reason for them to sell him this summer unless they get a mind blowing offer. For Benteke, another season as guaranteed starter could give him the edge over Romelu Lukaku in the race to start for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup.

Leandro Damiao – a good signing for Tottenham?

Spurs and Leandro Damiao, two names that have been linked together for the last two years; could this summer see them come together at last? Well, maybe, but more importantly, would he be a good signing? Is he worth such a long pursuit? The key thing to remember with him is this; don’t just look at the stats, you have to understand the whole story first.

The short answer to the question is, yes. Spurs have a big problem up front. Jermaine Defoe has a long established career pattern. He scores goals in bursts and bundles, scores spectacular goals, scores big goals, but doesn’t score reliably. He is also ‘just’ a goal scorer. That in itself isn’t a slight on him, someone needs to just score, but it makes him less than ideal for Andre Villas-Boas’ system and means that he can never get to the level above really good Premier League striker. His touch is decent and despite his small stature he can hold it up well enough but his distribution is basic and his inventiveness almost non existent. He’s sharp paced but not electric. Good but not great. As for Emmanuel Adebayor, his ceiling is much higher than Defoe’s, his optimum performance of a higher class but he’s even more inconsistent. His physical gifts are manna from heaven for Premier League success, but he doesn’t use them effectively enough. He should dominate defenders with his strength and pace, he should score 25 goals a season with his technical quality and positioning. He should be the fulcrum of the attack, allowing Gareth Bale, Lewis Holtby and Aaron Lennon to buzz around him causing chaos. But only sometimes does he do that. More often than not he doesn’t. This is where Damiao comes in.

Leandro Damiao

Leandro Damiao will be 24 at season’s start, is 6ft 1 1/2′, quick, strong, tough and has a poacher’s eye for goal. He draws comparisons to Brazilian Ronaldo in his pomp in his homeland. One of things that might alarm Spurs fans is his goals stats. In his years as a starter he has scored 8, 18, and 17 all competitions goals. That is a strike rate of less than the desired one in two. That is in an open Brazilian championship, more known for goals than for defence. Spurs fans may read that and wonder how he can be worth all the fuss. Is he not another Adebayor/Defoe type, all the gifts but not reliable enough?

The key thing to look at are his team mates at Internacional whilst he has been there. There’s no Bale, Lennon or Dembele supplying him. He’s pretty much had to make all of his goals himself. In the current squad, the only other international quality player is defensive midfielder Willians. Last season the club finished 10th in the league, which was proceeded by 5th and 7th placed finishes. He’s not like Neymar, playing in a team where he is surrounded by talent. He’s the only  top-quality player and yet still has managed good returns.

This is why he can be a big success at Spurs: He’s a prototypical build for the Premier League, he is used to playing as a lone front man, both for Internacional and for Brazil, he has good touch and the ability to bring others in to play high up the field. He has scored well despite poor quality supply in Brazil. If Spurs keep Gareth Bale he will have the best supply line in the world. Add him to Lewis Holtby who should improve markedly with a full pre-season, Aaron Lennon and Moussa Dembele and even the overlapping full backs and he will have all the supply he can dream of. Spurs have lacked for a clinical finisher, and that is exactly what Damiao is. You don’t score 35 goals in two seasons with negligible opportunities unless you are a potent finisher. He is exactly that, and exactly what Spurs need.

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