Value in football is a funny thing. Let’s pretend the Gareth Bale deal between Spurs and Real Madrid was a podcast question: come up with a list of players whose transfer value matches £86 million but who collectively could prove just as if not more valuable on the pitch.
It would be difficult to match this list:
Nacer Chadli: £7,172,000
Roberto Soldado: £26,400,000
Etienne Capoue: £9,680,000
Erik Lamela: £26,400,000
Vlad Chirches: £8,624,000
Christian Eriksen?: £14,000,000
Okay, we’re well over, but maybe we could likely scratch the first three names on that list, coming as they did after the Bale deal went past long-standing rumour into something else. Still, quite an impressive last minute shopping spree. Obviously Willian was supposed to be on it, and while Eriksen is a very good player there are question marks apparently over his athleticism and physical strength:
@RWhittall Eriksen textbook "eye test" case. Scouts see him as soft + unathletic, analytics guys love him. Ideological clash.
— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) August 28, 2013
Having seen him play with Ajax a bunch (on TV, like everyone else) I’m not quite sure I see what the fear is, but that’s a low valuation, even from Ajax, and obviously I’m no football scout.
But I digress. “Well yeah, that’s a good list,” my fictional podcast partner might say, “But can they collective guarantee 34 league goals?” Well, obviously not. But merit and facility payments aside, Spurs finished in fifth place, losing out by a single point to Arsenal for the fourth Champions League spot. That’s a chunk of change gone, too. So despite those 34 goals being integral to Spurs’ season last year, they didn’t really move the needle past the point Spurs would have ideally preferred.
And can you simply then go back and subtract 34 goals from Tottenham’s total and calculate where the would have finished instead and then look into lost gate sales, commercial revenue and merit and facility payments? You and I both know football doesn’t work that way, but yeah, you could.
You see what I’m saying here? Value…it’s slippery. Best to just hold your hands up, concede that we can’t properly calculate Spurs’ rough talent baseline-to-luck ratio until we have a bigger sample size, and just enjoy the wild ride!
Speaking of Marcotti, he’s compiled a list over at ESPNFC of what each big club has to do in the remaining few days of the transfer window. His take on Real Madrid is interesting: “The Gareth Bale transfer rumbles on and may or may not get done soon. Leave aside the fee and the implications for a minute, and ask yourself whether this is really a priority. Right now, Carlo Ancelotti has two strikers on his books. One is Karim Benzema, who has blown hot and cold and still divides the public at the Bernabeu. The other is Alvaro Morata, who is 20 years old and has started just five top-flight games in his career. With Cristiano Ronaldo having stated multiple times that he would rather not play up front, a centre forward should be a priority.” And the man of the moment? Asier Illarramendi. Hmmm… [ESPNFC].
GIF of the day: Celtic manager Neil Lennon runs to celebrate with his team as they score a last gasp aggregate winner against Shakhter Karagandy at Celtic Park. No word on whether Rod Stewart cried:
Quote of the Day:
“At the moment the two clubs are speaking – Tottenham and Real Madrid – to outline the final decisions or statements of contracts and I am not sure how much time it will take,” Villas-Boas said. “It could happen very, very soon. It might not happen so soon so I suppose it could go to the last days [of the window]. Or it could happen in the next two days.
“What’s happening is a dream move for him [Bale] so I think in the end, this could have happened in a different way. But Tottenham will be in the end … there will be a three-way agreement for the player to go and Tottenham will accept most likely the biggest transfer in world football. In the end, if Tottenham accept it and everything goes all right, it will be end of story.
“In the end, this is an agreement between everybody. I’m not going to speak from his point of view. He goes to Real Madrid, the biggest club in world football, for the record transfer in world football. We wish him well.” -Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas on Gareth Bale
Mourinho and the Special Ones:
Don't act like you're not excited: 'Mourinho & the Special Ones' does look set to be a truly groundbreaking cartoon. http://t.co/UwdBFAWqja
— Dan Quarrell (@Dan_Eurosport) August 29, 2013
Ken Early’s incredible read on the future chemistry between Lionel Messi and Neymar. Lots of good stuff in there, but this anecdote of Messi dressing down David Villa is priceless: “Messi’s scream of frustration probably had more to do with his own mistake, but for whatever reason, he then decided to take it out on Villa. “First time! First time!” he shouted. Villa looked nonplussed. “If I bring it to you …” Messi furiously cut him off: “First time!” Villa yelled back: “I couldn’t control it! Jesus! Are you serious? One, two touches, then I give it!” The blood had already drained from his face. It’s not easy getting reamed out by the world’s greatest player in front of more than 70,000 people. Even a World Cup winner shrinks before the scorn of a genius.” [Slate].