It would firstly be a question of Tottenham’s cunning as to whether the arrival of Nacer Chadli signals the departure of Gareth Bale. Successful football and a winning ethos doesn’t need to be borne out of the elaborate and stunning.
At £7 illion, Chadli’s signing did little to make waves, both in England and across Europe. But it says a lot for both club and player in deals like this.
What if it hadn’t been Tottenham? What if Porto or Dortmund had sneaked in and stolen a march? Juan Fernando Quintero had his admirers in Italy while on loan at Pescara, but it was his move to Porto this summer that really announced him as a future star. It’s the kind of marriage that pushes players further to global stardom and continues to strengthen a club’s hold as one of the better football operators in the game.
Tottenham don’t have that. At face value, Chadli looks like a smart albeit low-key buy. That’s nothing against his potential. Quintero, who is the perfect replacement for James Rodriguez at Porto, also transferred for a fee in the region of £5million. Yet with Spurs, it’s a case of the club loading the decks, offering themselves options when squad depth became an issue in the past. Is Chadli a replacement for Bale? I’d hardly think so.
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And it wouldn’t sit too well either, would it? There’s always a degree of apprehension with signings from the Dutch league. They can’t all be Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie or Ruud van Nistelrooy. It’s more than likely you’ll pick up an Afonso Alves. Though sometimes you could get a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar; a fantastic player for what he is, but one who nevertheless struggled immediately following his move away from the Eredivisie.
If Bale is sold (or is it when?) the return fee will be far too much for Daniel Levy to sit on his hands and say the package of Roberto Soldado, Chadli and Paulinho is your lot. The number of goals may be replicated, now spread over more than one individual, but Spurs are in the business of moving forward, not remaining a constant in fifth place.
It’s just convenience that Chadli can play in the same position as Bale. Let’s not deviate too much: Chadli is a good player with plenty of potential to be a very good player outside of Dutch football. It’s also convenient that Chadli shares many of the same qualities as Bale: power, pace and athleticism coupled with vision. But this is based on his performances in a league that has perhaps become the definition of hit and miss. If it is a case of waiting for the 24-year-old to fully blossom in England, can Spurs afford to wait?
How many times are clubs criticised for not taking gambles? In fact sometimes they’re not gambles. Chadli could have been on Spurs’ radar for a number of years; he was definitely attracting interest from Juventus and Shakhtar ahead of this summer. But opportunities arise.
It’s such a stretch to see this signing as one with the same purpose as Quintero at Porto. But then the beneficiaries are of course Spurs if the Premier League finds itself with another Mousa Dembele or Bryan Ruiz; relative unknowns who arrived in England and made lasting impressions, certainly in the case of the former.
And that’s also not to say there was no thinking behind this move, especially for the player. It’s a World Cup year. Belgium are fully stocked with outstanding talents in the forward lines. What good would it to for Chadli to sit on the bench at Juventus while Eden Hazard or Christian Benteke offer regular and amplified performances to further their own cause?
Though isn’t there a case to be made that Chadli will simply displace Aaron Lennon on the other flank?
Will Chadli’s signing signal the departure of Bale?
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