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Have Tottenham handled Simon Dawkins' recovery from long-term injury well, for both him and the club?
When the MLS season draws to a close at the end of this month, Simon Dawkins will return from his loan deal with the San Jose Earthquakes, his second at the club in as many seasons. The club will then undoubtedly circulate his name around for a sale in one of the transfer windows which will follow. If a decent price can be fetched for the Edgeware-born attacking midfielder, he will be sold. Should a suitable club not be found, he will probably be shipped off on a further loan of convenience for the rest of the season.
Thus continues the curious story of Simon Dawkins, the Spurs player who never really was. The truth is that throughout his latter career, the 24 year-old has been retained by Tottenham not as a squad member, but as an asset, a holder of value in a hypothetical sale in the future. Neither of his loans to San Jose over the past two years have been intended to prepare him for a future with the club, but merely to boost his resale value.
Initially, none of this may seem particularly out of the ordinary. Many squad players see their role at the club reverting to that of an asset to be sold once it has been ordained that they cannot be of use on the field, and loans are often used to keep their value high. The factor that makes Dawkins unique is that he had already been declared of no use to the club once before, at the close of the 2008-09, partly as a consequence of his inability to stay fit. Trials with RC Strasbourg and Celtic amongst others followed which Dawkins remained with Tottenham on a non-contract basis to keep fit. And then a very peculiar thing happened. Out of the blue, Spurs signed him back on a two-year deal in the spring of last year.
Arguably, Dawkins was seemingly never truly under consideration for the first team when he resigned for Tottenham in March 2011 at the age of 23. The very next day, he was shipped off on loan to San Jose and he has remained there completely off the radar ever since as the MLS calendars have permitted. The question thus remains why he was ever brought back to the club in the first place, and the answer is simple. Daniel Levy saw a youngster with some modicum of resale value available to the club as an unattached player, and he took it. In effect, it appears Dawkins was brought back to the club originally and entirely to serve the role of a saleable asset.
From a financial point of view, this state of affairs makes perfect sense; we know Levy likes trading in young stars that aren't essential to the first team, and by all accounts Dawkins had impressed the club's coaches enough to indicate that he could fetch a decent price for a free signing. What complicates the story is the fact that in the background of Daniel Levy's dealings with the player, Dawkins has quietly settled into life at San Jose. A European player who could never quite cut in in British football, Dawkins' skill on the ball and work rate has made him a popular figure with the Earthquakes faithful, and his loan signing this year was greeted with excitement. More importantly, Dawkins himself is happy in MLS, and has declared recently that he wishes to stay with the club when his loan spell ends.
Here is where Levy's approach of using players as mere holders of value hits something of a buffer. While attempting to hold on to Dawkins until a desirable buyer could be found, the club has inadvertently settled him somewhere that cannot afford to pay for him. As SJE Coach Frank Yallop stated on the subject, big money to Tottenham and big money to San Jose are entirely different concepts, and it is unlikely that a permanent deal could be straightforwardly struck between the two.
Chances of finding a permanent deal for Dawkins somewhere in Europe or the Football League, meanwhile, are decreasing rapidly as the player reaches an age at which he should be playing settled first team football. It is clear that Dawkins has worked hard to transform himself into a player that failed to shine on loan to Leyton Orient while on Spurs' books the first time around into a player that got his head down and made the most of his chance in the States, but these developments have nonetheless occurred late in his time spent within the bracket of ‘youngster'. The result could be yet another loan with more time spent out of the settled, regular spot that he desires for Dawkins, or a less than pleasing final settlement for the club should they fail to act decisively to find the player a new club.
Despite these issues, there are reasons to be optimistic about a future sale for Dawkins, however. His spells in MLS have been largely successful to date, earning him good reviews from pundits and a tally of 14 goals across two seasons to add to his CV. For Levy's experiment in holding a player on the books as a straightforward asset to sell, there is still time for a universally agreeable conclusion to be found, and hope still abounds that the injury-plagued talent Dawkins can find a home for his talents.