In honour of Tottenham probably making a profit on a player who has started 16 Premier and Champions League games since 2018 began…
GK: Paul Robinson (£2m)
The England keeper was nabbed in the sell-off following Leeds United’s relegation in 2004. “We are very pleased with the deal for Paul,” said Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner at the time, despite having sold an England international for a knockdown fee. But Robinson was “the highest-paid goalkeeper in England” at the time, so the then-24-year-old’s boyhood club were glad to get rid.
Robinson quickly became England’s No.1 while at White Hart Lane and his first three seasons with Spurs went swimmingly. But the keeper had a nightmare in 2007/08. He lost his club and international place, with Heurelho Gomes signed as his long-term replacement. Robinson was moved on to Blackburn for £3.5million.
RB: Kieran Trippier (£16.5million)
Whether or not Spurs were making plans for selling Kyle Walker when they signed Trippier in 2015 isn’t entirely clear. But the £3.5million release clause in the right-back’s contract at Burnley was just too tempting for them to ignore.
Trippier’s arrival spurred Walker on to show his best form, which led to Manchester City making a bid too good to turn down. So off Walker went and in came Trippier after a couple of seasons being eased into the Spurs fold. His form was so impressive that he usurped Walker as England’s starting right-back – but it then plummeted after a World Cup during which he caught the eye of the likes of Real Madrid. Eventually it was city rivals Atletico who gave Trippier a way out, with the 28-year-old earning Spurs a £20million transfer fee.
CB: Kyle Walker (£45.5million)
The right-back, who slots into this XI in the centre of defence, joined Spurs in 2009 as a 19-year-old having only just broken into the Sheffield United team. Walker came with Kyle Naughton in a £9million deal – though since no breakdown of the fee was ever offered, we’ll make it 50/50.
Spurs made a tenfold return on their investment eight years later when City stumped up at least £45million for the right-back who became the most expensive English player of all time. Some reports put the fee as high as £50million rising to £53million.
CB: Kevin Wimmer (£13.7million)
The Bundesliga’s seventh-best defender, according to Kicker, joined Spurs from Cologne for £4.3million in 2015. Fifteen underwhelming Premier League appearances later, the centre-back was sold to Stoke for £18million.
Peak Levy, or peak Stoke? You decide.
LB: Zeki Fryers (Break even + bonus of rattling Fergie’s cage)
Levy has not made much from trading left-backs but in the case of Fryers, while he made reaped little if any profit for a player who never looked likely to become a Spurs regular, at least in the process he got to piss off Sir Alex Ferguson, which had become a regular theme
Spurs were keen on the Man Utd academy graduate but the Red Devils wanted £6million compensation for a youngster who was approaching the end of his contract. So Fryers went to Standard Liege for nothing, only to move immediately on to Spurs during the next window for a fee thought to be in the region £3million. Ferguson was left seething over “blatant manipulation” of the rules – but it all became fuss over nothing. Fryers failed to break into the Spurs side, though Levy didn’t lose much when he got his money back from Crystal Palace. Fryers was subsequently released by Palace, then Barnsley, on his way to Swindon this season.
CM: Luka Modric (£13.5million)
“If you had a list of the midfield players around Europe who Newcastle could possibly attract, Luka Modric would be one of them,” said Kevin Keegan, what must feel like a lifetime ago for Toon fans. Newcastle had Modric at their training ground, but it was Spurs who won the £16.5million race for the then 22-year-old midfielder in 2008.
Four years at Tottenham saw Modric achieve his potential by becoming one of the game’s finest central midfielder. Chelsea were desperate to sign the Croatian, who wanted the chance to move across London, but Levy put his foot down and refused to do business. With Real, it was different. Levy accepted £30million from the Spaniards and the agreement to enter “a long and productive partnership” in respect of players, coaching and commercial relationships. That special relationship was evident when Spurs sent Gareth Bale to the Bernabeu the following year but it’s not clear whether Real have picked the phone up to Levy since.
CM: Michael Carrick (£14.5million)
“I must say negotiations were very difficult and went on for ages,” said Ferguson of the deal to sign Carrick in 2006. “I always remember I thought it was done and David Gill phoned me on the golf course to say they want more. Typical Daniel Levy!”
Indeed. Levy took Carrick from West Ham two years previously by which time the midfielder had served a season in the Championship with the Hammers. Spurs paid £3.5million before selling on to United at a huge mark up. Still, it was money well spent for Ferguson and United.
LW: Gareth Bale (£70million)
Spurs took Bale from Southampton in 2007 for £5million, plus the same again in potential add-ons and a sell-on clause guaranteeing Saints 25 per cent of any transfer away from White Hart Lane. A year later, Levy took advantage of a financial sh*t storm at St Mary’s to renegotiate that sell-on clause, paying £3million up front which Southampton gratefully accepted.
At that point, a loan to Birmingham looked more likely than a world-record transfer to Real Madrid. But that’s what happened in 2013 when Bale became the game’s most expensive player ever. He pocketed Spurs a profit of around £70million while Southampton rued the £20million they could have had.
RW: Nacer Chadli (£6million)
The winger was already a Belgium international with 14 caps when Tottenham took him from Twente for £7million in 2013. He made an unremarkable 119 appearances while netting 25 goals and come the start of the 2016-17 season, Chadli found himself out of favour with Mauricio Pochettino.
But West Brom had few qualms in making Chadli their record signing in 2016 when they paid £13million. His form there was similarly underwhelming, especially during his second season when the Baggies were relegated as injuries restricted Chadli to only five Premier league appearances.
FWD: Dimitar Berbatov (£19.85million)
The Bulgarian arrived at Spurs in 2006 in a £10.9million move from Bayer Leverkusen. After initially struggling in the Premier League, Berbatov eventually scored 46 goals in 102 appearances for Spurs while catching United’s eye, leading to another inevitable clash with Fergie.
“That whole experience was more painful than my hip replacement,” said the United boss of negotiating with Levy over Berbatov. Spurs had filed a complaint to the Premier League accusing United of ‘systematically working to prise the player away from White Hart Lane’. Manchester City’s takeover was timed perfectly too for Levy as their interest pushed the price for Berbatov up from £26million to £30.75million. “They milked it well on that last day,” surmised Fergie. “They milked it and they got Fraizer Campbell into the bargain. They got a good deal. They can’t complain.”
FWD: Robbie Keane (£12million)
Levy had been shopping at the Leeds fire sale even before Spurs signed Robinson. Two years prior to recruiting the keeper, in 2002, he took Keane from Elland Road, with Leeds taking a £5million hit on the striker they signed from Inter Milan barely a season and a half previously.
Keane cracked double figures in each of the following six seasons with Spurs, leading Liverpool to begin their pursuit of the Republic of Ireland forward. The Reds’ behaviour infuriated Levy, leading to another complaint to the Premier League. Spurs got £19million out of Liverpool and an official apology for their behaviour. Levy then took Anfield flop Keane back for £12million just six months later.