Among the frenzy over Gareth Bale saga and the signing of the Roberto Soldado, the sale of Steven Caulker has produced a relative ripple in the press. However on the social media sites, Caulker’s sale has been met with anger and indignation by Tottenham fans – arguably a justified and understandable response.
Spurs, using the tried and trusted step-up loan route, lent Caulker to Yeovil then Bristol City but his third loan move to Premier League Swansea City was where Caulker really came to prominence. The young Englishman made 26 appearances for the Swans – it would have been more but for injury – becoming a mainstay of the defence and earning numerous plaudits for his performances. These performances led to a new four-year contract with Spurs last summer and to becoming an integral part of the squad, making 18 appearances in the league and six in Europe, earning a full England call-up in the process.
In the league with Spurs, not only was Caulker defensively solid, rather than outstanding – he is at 21-years-old and still learning his craft – but with a high passing accuracy of nearly 90% – including seven key passes and one assist – as well as an aerial threat in the opposition box, Caulker seemed a perfect fit for Andre Villas-Boas’ new model Tottenham. Caulker not only became a fan favourite but was reputed to be the best graduate of Spurs Academy since Ledley King. So why has he gone?
Perhaps this has been driven by Caulker himself. With Brazil 2014 just around the corner does Caulker want regular starts in an attempt to force his way into the England squad – something he believes he might not see at Spurs with Younes Kaboul, Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson all in contention to start? If so this could constitute a massive gamble for Caulker. Newly-promoted teams often struggle and if Cardiff do and/or get relegated Caulker is unlikely to be on the plane, especially as a Championship player.
At Spurs – competing on four fronts – with injury to Vertonghen, Dawson injury-prone and Kaboul’s fitness to be tested following a season out, Caulker would likely have seen plenty of opportunities. If he took them, he may have been hard to dislodge. By going to Cardiff has he taken an easy way out?
For Spurs, with William Gallas departed, aforementioned doubts over others, to let Caulker with three years left on his contract leave appears an odd decision. Caulker may be more about potential at present but he is Premier League experienced. Rumoured replacements such as Doria, Tiago Llori and Vlad Chiriches – though this appears to be descending into farce – have plenty of potential too but are they ready to step out at Old Trafford?
Caulker’s fee seems low – not by normal logic but by football logic – considering how much the likes of Matija Nastasic and Marquinhos have been sold for. Irrespective of the fee, Spurs have left themselves with a shortage in a crucial position. Caulker’s sale is a gamble for Spurs and Caulker, one that hopefully will not backfire on both.
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