That was fun! Tottenham Hotspur put an epic beat-down on AFC Bournemouth at White Hart Lane on Sunday, and the match wasn't even as close as the 3-0 scoreline might indicate. It was perhaps Spurs' best team effort of the season and keeps them five points behind Leicester City heading into the international break.
So let's rate the players to a happy, fun topic. Spurs' chairman, Daniel Levy, is loved by many, hated by some. But one thing that's almost indisputable: the man knows how to make a transfer, especially an outgoing one. One of the toughest negotiators in the business, Levy will only make a deal if he's confident that it's the best possible deal he can make, and only then if it's good for the club.
Today we're rating the Tottenham Hotspur players to the theme of Daniel Levy outgoing player sales.
5 stars: Alan Hutton, £3m to Aston Villa (-£6m)
But, you say, we lost money on Alan Hutton! True, but not every fantastic deal is about making money; sometimes it's about minimizing loss. Daniel Levy somehow convinced Aston Villa to spend REAL ACTUAL MONEY to buy a terrible Alan Hutton. The deal was so welcome at the time (see the comments at this post) that when it was finalized I actually thanked – and then apologized to – the managers of 7500 to Holte. I'm not sure Robert has forgiven me yet. (Note also the implication that Hutton might somehow be Villa's central midfield solution. The Express and Star is very bad.)
Harry Kane: Magisterial. Kane scored after 45 seconds and again in the 16th minute, and he made them both look ridiculously easy. He's now the leading scorer in the Premier League and top of the "want list" for every major club in Europe. Tough, you can't have him.
Toby Alderweireld: I think this tweet sums it up.
Chance for Bournem… oh, Toby’s there, never mind.— Cartilage Free Capt. (@cartilagefree) March 20, 2016
Kyle Walker: Fantastic match from Walker. Bombed up the right wing and gave Bournemouth all kinds of problems. His pass to Kane for the first goal was inch perfect, and he was equally solid in defense. One of the best matches I've seen from him, ever.
Dele Alli: That through-ball for Kane's second goal was gorgeous. He had the vision to know where Kane would be and the skill to put it exactly where he wanted it to go. Still has a petulant streak which is sometimes worrisome, but his positives so outweigh the negatives. He created havoc all over the pitch on Sunday.
4.5 stars: Robbie Keane, £20.3m to Liverpool (+£14.3m)
Over the years, Daniel Levy has proven himself to be very astute at determining when a player is at the peak of his abilities... and then selling him for a profit to dumb clubs as they start to decline. Keano was a beloved striker at Spurs (I still love him) and this trade in 2008 angered a lot of Spurs fans when it happened. Keane was coming off a season where he scored 23 goals in all competitions. His next season at Liverpool? 7 goals. I still cackle at this in hindsight. The trade loses a bit of its luster after Spurs bought Keane back the following season for £12m, but still, essentially charging Liverpool £8m for a one-year Robbie Keane loan is kind of hilarious.
Kevin Wimmer: After barely playing for most of the season, Wimmer has been an absolute delight in central defense paired with Alderwiereld the past couple of months. I was particularly impressed with his passing in this match and he got the "hockey assist" for Kane's second goal.
Christian Eriksen: Eriksen's goal was a matter of being at the right place at the right time, but full credit to him for being there. He looked more like his old self and had a number of good set pieces on the day.
Danny Rose: Had acres of space to work with on the left flank and had his second consecutive good match going forward. Hit the side netting on a decent shot attempt. Kept Matt Ritchie in his pocket all match long. Rightfully keeping Ben Davies consigned to the B-team.
Mousa Dembele: His usual strong self in the center of midfield, he bossed the match again.
4 stars: Paulinho, £9.9m to Guangzhou Evergrande (-£7.1m)
What do you do when your £16m Brazilian World Cup superstar turns out to be a complete bust? Paulinho was looking like a major albatross around the club's neck, but Levy again showed his talent for squeezing blood out of a stone by shipping him off to China for £10m. £10m! For PAULINHO! Ignore the balance sheet, that was freakin' incredible.
Eric Dier: Shielded the defense well, didn't make any stupid decisions, and managed to get through nearly 90 minutes without picking up his tenth yellow card. He needs to make it through both the Liverpool and United matches to get the amnesty, otherwise it's two matches off, and Spurs can't afford that.
Erik Lamela: Not as impactful perhaps as what we've seen from him in other recent matches, but his work rate can't be faulted. Maybe should've done better on Kane's chip to him in the box, but it's hard to be too upset with Lamela's performance.
Hugo Lloris: He could've sat in a reclining chair between the sticks playing Angry Birds and had about the same impact on the match. This isn't a negative, this is due to Spurs' defense making his job ridiculously easy. His distribution was excellent though, especially on the play that led to Kane's second goal.
3 stars: Gareth Bale, £85.3m to Real Madrid (+£77.8m)
This is going to make some people really mad online, but there's no getting around that this is a pretty good piece of business. Gareth Bale was going to go to Madrid, and although most of us were in denial about it, ultimately it came down to how much we could get for him. Hard to argue with a world-record transfer fee, even though the final transfer fee was probably on par with what one should expect from a player of Bale's caliber.
Tom Carroll: Came in, did a job, didn't screw up. He was fine.
2 stars: Luka Modric, £33.3m to Real Madrid (+£16.8m)
What? Modric at two stars? Well, it's because Daniel Levy essentially took £10m less than what Chelsea was offering at the time just so he could prove a point and not strengthen a Premier League rival. From a Tottenham Hotspur fan perspective it's fantastic because f**k Chelsea, but from a pure business perspective that's a pretty bad deal.
Nope, nobody was this bad.
1 star: David Bentley, released on a Bosman (-£15m)
The poster child for a bad deal, Daniel Levy couldn't find anyone to even bid for Bentley, so bad was his tenure at Spurs. Say what you want about Roberto Soldado, but that one goal against Arsenal notwithstanding, David Bentley is still the worst transfer buy Spurs ever made, and the fact we couldn't recoup anything from it makes it even worse.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as buying and then releasing David Bentley.