Given that almost everything about Tottenham Hotspur’s 2013/14 season underwhelmed, it’s hard to point the finger too squarely at the seven players they signed in the preceding summer.
However, with a new manager and a degree of optimism now in place at White Hart Lane, much more will be expected of the expensive septet this time around.
Spurs are 7/2 to claim a top-four spot this season, a tricky task given that many expect five other teams to compete for the Premier League title.
Only Christian Eriksen can be said to have truly impressed in his first year in England, with the Dane winning Spurs’ Player of the Season award after notching seven goals and eight assists in 25 league appearances.
The biggest disappointments were unquestionably Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, who cost a combined £56m between them.
Soldado scored just six league goals, all-but two of which came from the penalty spot, while Lamela spent the second half of the year in the physio room and played just nine league games in total.
The Argentine, who bagged 15 goals for Roma in 2012/13, has looked sharp in pre-season, netting three times and generally appearing far happier in Mauricio Pochettino’s fluid attacking system.
Lamela above all is expected to produce big things this year and looks capable of living up to that billing, but more doubt hovers over Soldado, who will likely start behind Emmanuel Adebayor in the pecking order.
Paulinho was another big-money buy in 2013 and has yet to appear in pre-season after his poor World Cup campaign with Brazil.
Despite frequently disappearing last term, the midfielder did score eight times in all competitions and if he could hit double figures this season, it would ease the pressure on Spurs’ unreliable strikers.
There are real doubts over the futures of two of Spurs’ cheaper signings last summer, with Nacer Chadli and Vlad Chiriches both featuring in transfer gossip columns regularly of late.
The Romanian has the potential to be a fine ball-playing centre back, but might be viewed as too lightweight for the Premier League despite some good performances last season, while Chadli’s best hope of staying could be as a useful utility man.
It is one of the more unheralded purchases from 2013 that might really kick on this year, as Etienne Capoue looks an ideal fit for Pochettino’s side.
The Frenchman was hampered first by injuries and then by a manager who didn’t believe in defensive midfielders last season, but his powerful presence provides an effective screen for the back four, and his fast direct passing will appeal to the Argentine manager.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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