Real Madrid had got Florentino Perez as the club’s president. Florentino Perez, a big fan of football manager transfer policy, was intent on bringing in a new set of Galacticos. With this new wave coming in, the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben had to leave the club. And the story as we all know it is that both players were highly instrumental in leading their teams to the champions league final with Madrid still being unable to reach the quarter final stage. This prompted the famous quote from Arsene Wenger, “I might have to sign Real Madrid’s cast-offs this summer. ….. Maybe it’s worth waiting outside their stadium and seeing what players they let go this summer!”.
In the premier league, there are a number of cast-offs from teams who are quite capable of doing well at other clubs. Manchester United and Arsenal have a number of former trainees scattered around smaller clubs. One club in particular which seems to be harbouring a good number of quality misfits is Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham. The Tottenham squad has 4 strikers who can be classified as quality strikers. Problem is Redknapp favours a 4-4-1-1 system which favours one man up front. Van der Vaart might be a top-notch player but he does provide a problem for any manager with a number of good strikers. Players like Niko Kranjcar, Giovani dos Santos and David Bentley can also be classified as quality players but are not considered good enough or ready to be regular starters due a host of issues.
A player built in the typical Balkan playmaker mode and adjudged by some to be the heir to the great Robert Prosinecki at Portsmouth has failed to live up to initial expectation. He isn’t an out-and-out winger and when played out wide will drift into the centre of the pitch by default (similar to Van der Vaart). This causes problems for every team unless the team is set to cope with such a player and Tottenham are clearly not set to do so. It has to be said though that he remains a quality player and he isn’t too far off from Anderson Hernanes (Serie A star-man for Lazio) in my opinion. A move to a European side should revive his career and there will definitely be a good number of teams willing to take him at a reasonable price. Problem is, Is he ready to leave Spurs and quit the opportunity if it ever comes to impress in the Champions League?
Giovani dos Santos
The boy who many thought could replace Ronaldinho at Barcelona when he burst onto the scene at the Camp Nou. His greatest ability is his ability to roam around the pitch, look for space and exploit it. He can be a very creative player if given the freedom to express himself. Not intelligent or mentally developed enough to play behind the striker and keep Van der Vaart out of the side, a reasonable position would be out wide (where he impressed at the world cup) but given his willingness to drift to play to his maximize his strengths, he would pose problems for Tottenham’s shape. His move to England has been a failure and he would do well to seek a move back to a club in a competitive league where he would be welcomed and allowed to express himself.
Mark McGhee, Gordon Strachan and Marcello Lippi could not all have been wrong. “At the time, Inter had a policy of going for young players and Robbie Keane was the best one that I saw.”, said Lippi. Robbie Keane, a striker adjudged by many to go down in history as one of the greats has failed to live up to those early expectations but who does? He will definitely go down as a quality striker being the 11th highest goalscorer in the history of the premier league with 121 as at the end of last season behind Dwight Yorke and ahead of Anelka (In good company). Thing is, he is definitely not in Harry Redknapp’s plans any more. Robbie Keane still has the quality in him as no one becomes a bad player overnight. He may not be as good as he used to be but he is still better than two-thirds of the strikers in the premier league. His brief spell at Celtic shows he’s still got the ability though some might argue that players in the SPL are championship quality. Problem with signing Robbie Keane is he and/or his agent think he can earn close to £80,000 he gets from Tottenham every week. Robbie Keane might just have to settle for a small pay at a smaller club and endear himself to a new set of fans where he will be adored.
Seeing any other of these player play presently might give one the idea that they aren’t good enough or are past it. The truth of the matter is that every player relies on confidence and belief shown in him. Van der Vaart though good was nowhere near this productive at Real Madrid. Another issue with Tottenham is that any of these players might just have a good run in the side and become wonderful once more. Think of Gareth Bale and one Roman Pavlyuchenko who claims Harry Redknapp made him the subject of a “joke in London” but is now considered a regular in the squad. Currently, Tottenham play in the Champions League so players like Bentley, Giovani dos Santos, Kranjcar and Keane who are clearly not considered 1st eleven regulars might be given ample opportunity to impress due to fixture congestion. These bunch of players might realize their unwantedness and make the decision to leave. The clubs that pick up these players might just have the English Madrid to thank, the Lilywhites as opposed to the Los Blancos, the Whites.
It might turn out to be a whole different scenario if Tottenham fail to make the Champions League, then these fringe players if still present might form the core of the new Tottenham as Van der Vaart, Modric and Bale would probably leave (though it should be noted that Daniel Levy, the man who pulls the strings at Spurs is financially capable of retaining these star men and would probably sell the star names at exorbitant prices) and then Tottenham will probably not be considered as the new Madrid, they will be the ultimate feeder team for Europe’s elite teams but who’s to say Real Madrid aren’t?