Best Spurs Transfers of the Last 40 years
Just what criteria should we use when determining the greatest transfers in the history of Tottenham Hotspur? There are, of course, the big money signings, many of whom have failed to make any mark at the club – step forward Sergei Rebrov and Roberto Soldado.
Other big purchases could yet go to make this list. Our current record signing is Davinson Sanchez and he is young enough to develop into one of the great centre halves. But in general, we were looking for modest purchases who went on to become legends at White Hart Lane and, based on that key factor, there’s only one place to start.
Spurs paid Southampton £7 million when they purchased Gareth Bale from Southampton back in 2007. It’s not an insignificant figure but in footballing terms, it’s the type of sum that a Chairman might find in loose change down the back of the sofa. In time, it might also have led to Bale being, pound for pound, the best ever signing in our long history.
Performances for the Saints were promising but early performances at White Hart Lane were not so encouraging and gave no hint of what was to come. At one point there was an unfortunate stat relating to games lost when Bale was in the side and, when this was finally broken, it was swiftly followed by a long term injury.
There had, however, been three goals in his first four starts and Gareth was confirming a reputation gained at Southampton as a free kick specialist. At the time, Bale was playing at left back: Peter Crouch writes in his autobiography that it was akin to making Ronaldo play in goal but there was no real suggestion of the brilliance that was to follow.
All that changed one night in Milan when Bale’s hat trick almost forced an unlikely comeback against Inter in the Champions League.
From there, Bale never looked back. Pushed further forward, spectacular long range goals rescued Spurs on a number of occasions. Sadly he just couldn’t push Tottenham back into the Champions League and in 2013, he eventually joined Real Madrid for a fee in excess of £85 million. It was a return on investment of £78 million but how we wish he was still here.
In terms of bare stats, Bale scored 55 goals in 203 appearances and it’s always worth taking time out to head across to YouTube and enjoy some of his finest moments.
Clearly we’re going to have to dedicate a full page to Gareth Bale in our greatest players section so we’ll leave it there for now and just suggest that this was the best £7 million that the club ever spent.
Winger David Ginola had spent two successful years with Newcastle United where he had become a firm fan’s favourite. With trickery on the flanks and an eye for spectacular goals, it was something of a surprise when the Frenchman joined Spurs for just £2.5 million in 1997.
He would go on to spend three years at White Hart Lane where the same qualities displayed at St James’s Park would quickly win supporters over. Ginola didn’t deal in easy goals and, although the jinking run and finish against Barnsley is repeated more than most, there are many contenders as to which was his best.
Ginola was also part of the team that won the League Cup in 1999 and over the last twenty years is therefore part of a rare group of Spurs medal winners.‘Daveed’ received one of the warmest receptions when he came back for the White Hart Lane farewell and he’s also a ‘Hall of Famer’ having been inducted in 2008.
Another man to have headed down to White Hart Lane from St James’ Park was Paul Gascoigne. This list is in no particular order so feel free to switch Gazza above Ginola but at the very least, we hope you’ll agree that both men deserve to be here.
Gascoigne famously signed for Spurs in 1988 when he was being lined up for a transfer to Manchester United. According to United boss Alex Ferguson, Tottenham snatched the deal with the promise of a new house for the player’s parents. Over the first two seasons, there were lots of moments of magic but it wasn’t until the 1990/91 campaign that Spurs produced anything tangible.
There is that unfortunate lasting memory of Gazza being stretchered off at the start of the 1991 FA Cup Final. We won that game without him and it’s perhaps easy to forget the huge part he played in getting us to Wembley.
Goals and dominant performances throughout the rounds, most notably against Oxford United, Portsmouth and Notts County took Spurs to the semi final where that brilliant early free kick against Arsenal set the tone for the game.
He may not have been there right at the end but he’d done so much to get us to our most recent FA Cup win and there can surely be few arguments about his inclusion here.
Some of our younger readers will have to forgive us for going back in time a little for our fourth pick but in terms of cost to value, Graham Roberts might just scoop everyone else on this list. The future Spurs and England centre half was languishing in non league with Weymouth when Spurs came calling and signed him up for a fee of just £35,000. When you consider that Robbo was part of the 1981 and 1982 FA Cup winning teams and would later go on to lift the UEFA Cup, we reckon that’s money well spent.
Roberts was one of a dying breed – players who were known as hard men but largely kept things within the rules. That wasn’t always the case of course and this writer remembers one infamous incident when the defender was sent off on a stretcher against Wimbledon.
But the memories are largely happy and positive ones. When called upon, Robbo was a true leader and that was never better underlined than when he stepped in to cover for the suspended Steve Perryman against Anderlecht in 1984. He was immense at the back and pretty useful in front of goal at times. Roberts scored a hat trick against Southampton when pushed into midfield and scored a total of 23 league goals during his time at Spurs.
The defender left for Glasgow Rangers in 1986 for £450,000 with some unkind words from David Pleat ringing in his ears. Something along the lines of kicking a few down here and he’d kick a few up there too. That wasn’t the right epitaph for Robbo – he meant so much more to Spurs in his time at White Hart Lane.
Time may yet be the judge in this case but we’re going to finish off this round up by including a current player. Dele Alli signed on at White Hart Lane in the winter transfer window from MK Dons for an initial fee of £5 million. He was immediately loaned back to the club and therefore, most of us were wondering what the fuss was about.
‘Spurs fans are buzzing about this boy,’ said Jim White on Sky Sports News but few of us were taken in as he tried to drum up interest on a dull transfer deadline day.
Dele duly returned to Spurs for the start of the 2015/16 and while he may not have been an instant hit, he made a good opening impression, scoring as a substitute in an early appearance against Leicester City. He’s been productive from midfield throughout his career and has a happy tendency to score against big teams – Chelsea have been on the wrong end of Alli’s prowess on more than one occasion.
As this column was written, Dele had scored 53 goals in 178 games in all competitions – a decent ratio for an attacking midfielder. Will he develop into one of Tottenham’s all time greats? Opinion is divided on the subject and not every fan warms to Dele Alli. A few more goals and some winners medals in the future may well win them over.