The positive summer purchases have continued for Tottenham, with the club announcing the signing of Roberto Soldado from Valencia.
For the Spaniard, it may have been a case of now or never. The World Cup is on the horizon, he missed the European Championship in 2012 despite being the highest scoring Spanish player in La Liga, and now, with a foreign club calling, the temptation is very much to prove himself away from the comforts and familiarity of Spanish football.
And this one should be thought of in the same category as the Cavanis and Higuains; Tottenham couldn’t afford either of those players, whether in terms of wages and fees or in battling against other clubs for their signatures. But Soldado is the next best thing, and probably the best thing that was realistically available to Spurs this summer – a high-end striker making a big-money move across Europe. Now it’s time to think long term with a player who can legitimately claim to be the best forward Tottenham have had in many years.
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Even if Tottenham win the day on the Gareth Bale saga, the player will be off at some stage. The Welshman has been at the epicentre of all that is good about Tottenham’s football over the past season, but unlike Soldado, he won’t be lining up at White Hart Lane following next summer.
Soldado has the natural scoring instincts to be hit anywhere he plays. The feeling of dejection following Real Madrid’s lack of interest to invest in one of their own has done nothing to hamper his development into one of the best forwards in Spain. At 28, he’s in the prime of his career to be a leading marksman in a team who are pushing for something more.
And that’s nothing against Valencia, despite some questionable decisions in recent times. The makeup of Spanish football simply forces a halt and a very obvious glass ceiling. But Tottenham have resources, a coach who is valued and who has the smarts to continue in this progressive line of thinking. With Soldado at the tip of the sword, Spurs could make genuine and long-lasting noise in English football.
But the situation could easily become a continuation of the current trend, in that the team has an overreliance on one player for results. Soldado needs to be the focus of attention post-Bale, but he needs good players around him. Like most naturally gifted forwards, Soldado needs service and a high level of consistency from his suppliers. Yes he can craft out chances for himself on occasion, but he is a forward-facing No.9 who latches onto the ingenuity of others. A Bale-Soldado partnership could be incredible for Spurs – it would be incredible for Spurs. But that isn’t the reality the club are facing.
Soldado has been prone to going through scoring droughts, but his consistency has noticeably improved over the past season. Moreover, he won’t go missing; he doesn’t sulk or perform poorly to force an issue. He’s a natural leader, having served as one of the captains during his time at the Mestalla, and he has an unbelievably high level of motivation.
Tottenham have laid down their marker for the next few seasons in spending big on a striker who can be a regular source of goals. Obviously he alone won’t force Tottenham over the line into fourth and keep them there, so a focus on the strengths in the squad needs to be a priority. Add more creativity and wide play, especially if Bale is off this summer. Spend the money and continue to add depth. There is uncertainty ahead, but notably among most of the top clubs in the Premier League too.
The capture of Soldado is proof that even without Champions League football Spurs can be a draw for some of the best talents. And with one of the best strikers in Spain now at White Hart Lane, Andre Villas-Boas needs the focus to be on his best source of goals over the long term.
Should Soldado be the focal point of Tottenham’s play moving forward?
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