Tottenham could just play Bale as a striker?

Gareth Bale

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed the club are targeting Valencia striker Roberto Soldado to bolster their attacking line-up in their quest to qualify for Champions League football next term.

However, the 28-year-old Spaniard’s club have put it plainly that unless any potential suitors meet his €30 million release clause, the striker is going nowhere.

That equates to £25.8 million and that’s a hefty chunk to spend on a 28-year-old who rarely gets a call-up to the national side, despite his impressive 30 goals in all competitions for Valencia last term.

Spurs had initially been chasing his elder compatriot David Villa who opted instead to remain in his homeland and switch in La Liga to Athletico Madrid earlier this month. Subsequently, Tottenham turned their attention to Soldado but the Spaniard is a far more expensive prospect than Villa was (despite Barcelona’s haggling, the former Valencia striker went for just €5.1 million).

Tottenham have Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor who between them scored 16 goals in the Premier League. Their top scorer by a country mile was, of course, Gareth Bale, who scored 21 goals in the league, 26 overall and made 15 assists as well.

By that rationale, Bale is Tottenham’s best striker – even though he’s not a striker. He started out under Harry Redknapp as a left-back, then a converted left-winger and now he tends to be deployed by Villas-Boas as an attacking midfielder through the middle in the space where Rafael van der Vaart had previously been so effective under Redknapp.

Gareth Bale is Tottenham’s own Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo and both of them, the former especially, are often deployed as out and out strikers. Messi started out as a left-sided winger at Barcelona, before being moved centrally as an attacking midfielder or second striker (a number 10 effectively) and now last term he played pretty much the whole season as a striker.

Former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho often explained his own confusion over whether Ronaldo was a winger or a striker – the confusion is understandable given that the Portuguese star was and is undoubtedly the most gifted finisher at the club. The same goes for Messi at Barca.

Bale’s finishing quality throws up the same confusion at White Hart Lane – I just wonder whether Spurs might be better of using that £25.8 million on buying a quality midfielder in the mould of van der Vaart or a left-winger and deploying Bale as an out-and-out striker.

He’s more dangerous in and around the penalty area that any other player in the league – I believe he’s better than Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez but their position means they naturally get more opportunities to score. Why not put your best finisher right in front of the goal?

Instead of haggling over Soldado, Spurs should think about bringing in a player like Ajax’s Christian Eriksen or Moscow’s Keisuke Honda or Marco Reus or Alexis Sanchez or Fredy Guarin. I’m sure for around the £25 million mark, Spurs could bring in a world-class attacking midfielder and provide Gareth Bale with the assistance to become the Golden Boot winner as a striker next term.

image: © Jan S0L0

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch