Where are they now? Tottenham’s seven Gareth Bale replacements

Quick Reads

In his final years at Tottenham, Gareth Bale developed into one of the best players in the world. Replacing him was always going to be difficult for Spurs.

So, rather than try, Tottenham reinvested the £85million Real Madrid paid for Bale to sign not one but seven new players.

Seven years later, only one remains at the club.


Paulinho arrived at White Hart Lane with high expectations after starring for Corinthians in Brazil, but the midfielder failed to live up to the hype.

After two underwhelming years at Spurs, he was shipped off to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande and nobody expected to see him return to Europe.

However, Barcelona shocked the footballing world by signing Paulinho for £36million in 2017…only to then send him back to China after a year. As weird signings go, that was right up there.

Roberto Soldado

Soldado was signed for £26million on the back of an excellent season for Valencia, scoring 30 goals in 46 appearances for the Spanish side in 2012-13.

However, the striker failed to hit the same heights in the Premier League and also suffered from the emergence of Harry Kane.

“I think in the end what let me down at Tottenham was my head; for whatever reason, it wasn’t right,” Soldado told The Guardian in 2016.

“Perhaps my transfer fee was too big, [or] maybe the expectations I put on myself put me over the edge in a sense. I found I was getting easy chances on the pitch and I’d miss them; the tiniest things would go against me.”

Spurs were able to recoup £10million by selling him to Villarreal in 2015, and Soldado is now playing for Granada after a short spell in Turkey. At the age of 35, he scored as many league goals in his first season at Granada as he mustered in two campaigns with Spurs.

Etienne Capoue

Capoue cost £9million from Toulouse and looked like a smart buy for Spurs. However, the defensive midfielder wasn’t able to establish himself in their starting line-up, making just 36 first-team appearances before joining Watford in 2015.

He revitalised his career at Vicarage Road, forming a formidable partnership with Abdoulaye Doucoure in midfield, but they were unable to prevent Watford from suffering relegation in 2019-20.

Vlad Chiriches

After signing from Steaua Bucuresti, Chriches impressed during the 2013-14 campaign despite spending most of the season as a back-up player.

The centre-back found game time hard to come by under Mauricio Pochettino, making just 10 league appearances under the Argentine.

Chiriches departed for Serie A side Napoli in 2015 and has now joined Sassuolo on a permanent deal after spending 2019-20 on loan at the Neroverdi.

Nacer Chadli

Chadli signed from FC Twente for £7million and was a regular during his three seasons at the Lane, scoring 25 goals for the club including an impressive 13 in his second season.

The winger is one of two players on this list who Spurs actually made a profit on as they sold him to West Brom for £13million in 2015.

The Belgian spent two years at The Hawthorns before moving to Monaco. He spent 2019-20 on loan at Anderlecht.

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen is undoubtedly the most successful of Spurs’ seven signings made with the Bale money, although that’s not saying much.

The 27-year-old was signed for just £11.5million from Ajax, which proved to be a brilliant bit of business as he developed into one of the best playmakers in the world.

After six and a half years in England, Eriksen turned down a new contract at Spurs and was sold to Inter in January.

“I have so many unbelievable memories over the last 6.5 years I was at Spurs,” Eriksen said. ‘I enjoyed being at the training ground every day and playing games in the stadium so much, but sometimes you just want to try something new.”

Erik Lamela

After Eriksen moved to Serie A, Lamela is now the last man standing from the seven players that joined Spurs in 2013.

The winger was signed as a like-for-like replacement for Bale and was the most expensive of the seven arrivals that summer, costing £30million from Roma.

Lamela has struggled with injury problems and has been unable to fill Bale’s boots, it would be fair to say, although he has provided flashes of genius when he has been fit.

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