Should Tottenham have taken the £10m and run?
After Reading boss Brian McDermott revealed that the club had an offer in the region of £10m turned down for Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson towards the end of the January transfer window, you have to question the logic in keeping around such an obvious square peg in a round hole, so will the north London outfit come to regret turning down such an attractive offer in the future?
It’s worth noting that Sigurdsson was very much a Daniel Levy signing, put in place even before the Portuguese manager had walked through the door. Andre Villa-Boas was certainly asked his opinion on his first signing in charge, and after such a successful six-month spell at Swansea the campaign before, for a fee of about £8m, with Rafael van der Vaart being ushered towards the exit door, it made sense to bring in a suitable replacement.
Nevertheless, after starting just six league games so far this season and eight across all competitions, it’s become clear that life at White Hart Lane has proven more of a struggle than even his biggest critics would have previously assumed. There’s a sense that unless the 23-year-old is scoring, that he doesn’t really contribute a whole lot less, but he’s still reasonably young and learning his trade, so is there a future still for him at the club?
Villas-Boas would seem to think so, telling reporters why he blocked the deal towards the end of the window: “Obviously he’s a player that means a lot to Reading. But he’s a player that we rate very highly. We brought him here after his amazing contribution [on loan] for Swansea last year and he’s a player that we have high expectations for. Probably this season at the moment he is not going to the level that he wants, but he’s a player that we believe a lot in, and in his future here. We couldn’t allow him to leave.”
The arrival of Clint Dempsey as a utility forward towards the end of the summer and the January acquisition of Lewis Holtby, brought forward a full six months ahead of schedule would seem to complicate matters even further, with Villas-Boas clearly earmarking the latter for that role behind the lone striker, whoever that may be next season. The fact that a deal had already been put in place for Holtby to arrive in the summer when his contract runs out from Schalke, but that a £1.5m switch was secured last month is a sad indictment of the faith they place in Sigurdsson at the moment, who looks bereft of confidence whenever he has featured these past few months, even being tried out in an unfamiliar wide left position.
McDermott revealed that Reading made three offers which were all turned down by Tottenham, so that shows a degree of persistence on their part just as much as it does a stubborn refusal to give up on a player so soon after buying him in the first place.
The club’s fans haven’t quite taken to him either and there’s a sense that he’s something of a forgotten man around the place; not quite quick enough, not quite tricky or technical enough, nor dependable enough to have any sort of lasting impact on the starting eleven and he’s been forced to make 19 of his 27 appearances this term off the bench.
He was bought with a specific role in mind but has faced increased competition in the position he is most effective in and Villas-Boas has even preferred picking Emmanuel Adebayor just behind Jermain Defoe at times in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, with Dempsey pushed out wide to cover Gareth Bale’s absence, rather than trust Sigurdsson to fill the gap temporarily.
The final offer made by Reading would have seen Tottenham make a £2m profit in terms of the fees involved and you have to wonder whether they’ll ever get as an attractive offer as that further down the line, particularly while his stock continues to fall. Cutting your losses can often be quite embarrassing for every party involved, but with Villas-Boas set to add to his squad once more in the summer, perhaps with another move for Joao Moutinho, you have to ask yourself, how much longer do you wait before coming to the same inevitable conclusion? That’s he’s just not up to the standard required for a side with Champions League ambitions.
The logic behind his decision to reject Liverpool’s advances and continue to work under a manager in Brendan Rodgers at Anfield that he had a good relationship with at the time looked a strange one, but with every passing fixture, as his rivals continue to stake their claims, it looks even worse. Sigurdsson can only watch from the bench now, frustrated at his lack of prominence and inability to change the tone of the narrative, with the route back looking ever more distant and difficult to travel.