Strikers: Why Spurs Can't Afford to Screw Around Anymore

In case you forgot, last Monday was supposed to be a great one for Spurs fans. I woke up that morning (early for once) and in addition to finally get a look at the new kits, there was photographic confirmation that Weezus was at training and appeared happy. Its not like I ever thought too many of us were that worried (sorry: I am really doing this and only because I never actually saw the headline anywhere) Bale would bail on us; it was just nice that everyone else saw him and can now back the hell up for the time being Oh and of course tons of people on this site and I’m sure elsewhere were psyched for the seemingly imminent arrival of David Villa that just had to line up with the kit unveiling, right? While that would’ve been a bit odd in retrospect, I can see how it seemed logical at the time. But then we got blindsided by the new kits that were kinda meh but they’re just shirts and man that blue is dark as hell. Then we find out a Villa move to Atletico Madrid was in the works and shortly after hearing the first rumors, a deal got done and there went our great week.

Personally, I wasn’t too upset about Villa’s decision to stay in Spain as he is certainly not what I had in mind for the line-leading, half man half beast striker this team has needed for years. And I also don’t blame him: why take the risk of tarnishing his ego and legacy by moving to Spurs when he knows he can still put up some decent numbers against the majority of that lopsided league and remain in prime contention for Spain’s World Cup squad? His decision to stay should’ve told us all what a big sissy he is and that we’re better off without him and his wages. However, that still leaves us desperate for someone up top that gives a shit and can score consistently as we only have the 2 guys and we all know their deficiencies quite well at this point.

I was actually more concerned that Mario Gomez was off to Italy without a peep from WHL. Although my top choice for a striker target (within actual reason for a team claiming its goal is at least top 4, basically meaning between 15-20 mil, 25) was probably still Damiao heading into the summer, I was not and have never been too picky about who the team signs as long as they sign someone who can lead the line on his own and score at least 15, preferably 20+ goals a year. I wanted Damiao partly for the sense of closure and partly bc he was the type (AKA build, skill set, physical attributes, etc.) of striker I thought would do well with Spurs. But after hearing some of the rumors re: Gomez and what he'd likely cost (I had read as low as 7-8 and as high as 17-20), my vote kind of went that way until he got snatched up by the Purples (Fiorentina's nickname mean “the purples” in Italian right? I wish we played them more or at all so I could use that name once in awhile) for just a few million more than we expected to pay for Villa. Meanwhile, we started realizing Damiao’s club were up to their old tricks and still screwing around with potential suitors by asking for 50 bazillion dollars even though anyone following Brasileiro will tell you dude has fallen off and we are lucky they never accepted any of our bids. So there goes another two candidates.

So now that is 3 possible targets (4 if you count Jozy) off the table or not worth the effort and our options will only get slimmer from here. Of course many of us (including myself) have drooled over the great Bobby Soldier for a while and nothing has changed for me. I always figured he'd be too expensive and nonplussed about a move to WHL so while I still think he is perfect, I am uninterested in going after a player that needs too much convincing. While there still seems to be at least some whispers of a Spurs bid for him, neither the player nor his team appear interested in a move this summer. Of course we are all just running around batcountry looking for scraps of news from so anything is possible; I just think I can safely say any deal for Soldado will be a long back and forth with Levy raising his bid a dollar at a time until the end of the window when we end up with Wondolowski (the new Jozy) or worse. Of course I mean no disrespect to him or anything as he is obviously killing it with our MLS “partners” out in the South Bay but he is already 30 and not even a partial credit answer to our problems up front. Maybe he would be a nice cheap cover guy to pick up in January if he can do anything with the A team against Costa Rica or Mexico in the next WC qualifiers and our good buddies the Earthquakes give us a nice long trial in December but what the hell am I even talking about??? Man, now you know the summer is taking way too long when I start actually considering shit like that because I totally just did a minute ago.

Anyway, for the time being at least, we turn our attention (or the transfer request and media turned it for us) to Birmingham. I agree with the detractors that Benteke is still a bit unproven and totes mercenary-esque. And he certainly wasn’t my first pick nor do I think he should be our main target right now. However, we are running low on plausible options already and no one wants another typical Spurs August. For once, I think Levy just might feel that way too. Or at least has been convinced to act that way. If there is any chance of getting a deal for a striker done quickly, this would be the best bet right now since there really doesn’t appear to be too much to argue about. I know Levy would rather shave his dome with a blunt fork than pay sticker price for anyone and I love him for it and never want him to change. However, I think the Villans might just be smart enough to let him feel like he got a good deal by knocking a couple million off or even taking most of the loot up front and getting add-on or sell-on money down the road. If he is as good as he is supposed to be, they should have no problem agreeing to those kind of terms. And if not, they can’t really think they’ll get 25 when they ask for 25 right?

My main concern now is the shelf-life of our current team. Of course I don’t think the squad is too old or anything; they are just too awesome to stick around and wait for a stadium to get built before enough money to back-up the sales pitch they got is invested in the team. Am I the only one that has a hard time believing Bale will be the only one out the door if we go another season without copping a new striker? We are in a pretty awesome situation heading into the season with an abundance of high quality players in basically every position but the one up top that is supposed to score goals. In the eyes of many far more objective people than myself, we were a consistent striker short of finishing ahead of at least Arsenal and probably Chelski too. Granted MCofA will tell us we were actually one Dem-Dro performance short of top 4 or whatever accounts for those 1-0 home losses to Fulham and Wigan and that may very well be true. However, I’ve yet to see any advanced metrics to consider how we’d play with a determined, hard-working, and 20 goals-a-season-scoring striker up top.

Basically what I am saying is that if we are going to mess with the big boys and the hotshot targets floating around this summer, we have to be committed to paying those kinds of fees. It would be awesome if we could scour the "obscur-ish" leagues and buy a 21 year old striker with promise for 7 million and 20K a week. And I would include the Belgian League here as well because while it is not really obscure to EPL fans as of late, deals can be had there for teams like Spurs since wages are low and players capable of playing in bigger leagues will jump ship ASAP to play with most EPL sides w/o the wishy-washy national allegiance we find in South America and some of the Eastern European leagues). But the time for low-risk high-reward buys has come and gone: now we have to suck it up and pay for UCL talent. Yeah, Spurs will hopefully look around for promising young strikers this summer too but we just plain old goddamm need an established striker we can rely on to come in and contribute from day one. We don't have the luxury to spend our limited funds on anyone that we can't rely on to play up top all season (of course I understand injuries are a thing but you know what I mean) and play his ass off trying to lock down a WC spot.

For example, look no further than the team we are already looking at: Villa were in a remarkably different position heading into last season than we are now. They were a team with a new coach and diminishing talent with fans that would've been amped to finish top half. They could afford to spend money on a 21 year old Belgian because Lambert intended to field a young squad that wouldn’t cost too much and they had plenty of options up top if Benteke hadn’t started ripping off heads and spitting into necks. They might have stayed up regardless with Bent, Wiemann, Agbonlahor and even Delfouneso chipping in with goald here and there. Conversely, Spurs have 2 strikers on the wrong side of 30 (or 29 with Ade turning 30 in 2/2014) and Harry Kane, who has yet to play more than a handful of minutes in the top tier and yet to score a goal in said tier.

Most importantly, our expectations are much much higher than Villa's were, both among fans and leadership. We just finished yet another year of almost pulling it off despite having the POY, the top keeper in England and maybe Europe, one of the best defenders in EPL with J Vert, and a stacked midfield. I mean, any objective viewer in the world would say our most needed area for improvement is up top and yet we just dropped 17 million on a midfielder we are not even sure will make the first team. If you think you might not be able to afford to make improvements everywhere, wouldn’t you address the most problematic area first? I know I complained about this same thing last summer and it ended up coming to fruition: we get Jan, Hugo, Gylfi, Moose, Deuce and by the time we look into strikers, we’re only able to afford the dirt cheap price we (over) paid for Ade. Were they not planning on buying a striker this summer? If so, did they think he’d be free? Maybe they expected to find another rich team to sell us their disgruntled high wage earners? Whatever the case may be and however this summer’s episode of our eternal quest for THE guy pans out, the Spurs team we have at this moment looks ready to start crushing the London rivals and finishing top 4 on the regular...but only if Levy and co. pony up for a striker to match the quality on display at every other position. Do we have to start leaking stories about our players being linked to Serie A sides to drum up business? What’s a good ITK twitter name? Or shit, how much do you think we could raise with car washes and bake sales? Then do you think we could pay Villa or Valencia with change jars full of various currencies? Maybe we just need to slap Ade with a paternity suit when he goes to visit Turkey so he can’t ever ever leave again.

It is now late and I do not feel like checking my grammar again so holla if you get confused. Oh and thanks for letting me bitch in long format.

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