As Gareth Bale climbed the steps of the Estadio da Luz to collect his Champions League winner’s medal, many Tottenham Hotspur fans looked on with a mixture of wonder and resentment. The Welshman has achieved a lot in his first season at Real Madrid, but where has his departure left the North London club?
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy negotiated a world-record transfer fee for Bale, reported as £85.3 million. The money was immediately re-invested, with no fewer than seven new players arriving at White Hart Lane.
Optimism was high among the fans, with strong expectations to challenge for the Premier League title. Qualification for Champions League football was the minimum objective.
Fast forward to the end of the season: Tottenham have sacked two managers and have scraped into the Europa League.
New signing Roberto Soldado has been particularly poor. A goal machine in Spain, it's clear that he is a very talented player. The 28-year-old’s link-up play is second to none, but he gets paid to score goals. Only two goals from open play isn't good enough and by the end of the season, he had lost his place to youngster Harry Kane.
Of course, there will always be a period where foreign players need to bed into the country, the language, and the culture. The Spaniard’s performances improved when Emmanuel Adebayor played alongside him. Soldado was able to make runs off of him, darting into the box and making himself dangerous. His goal against Cardiff City is a prime example - the Togolese striker laying the ball off and Soldado slotting it into the far corner.
Maybe the introduction of a creative midfielder in the mould of Rafael van der Vaart - who will be able to feed him the ball in the box - would help. Many times this season the forward has been found out on the wing, trying to kickstart attacks but ultimately being isolated.
With a new manager yet to arrive, Soldado will need to play in a system that allows the former Real Madrid man the support he needs. Having a strike partner will no doubt help him and his confidence, allowing him to flourish at Tottenham.