In Candy Land, we have Edin Dzeko!
While part one and part two of this series were mostly based in reality, part three is not. Ryan and I have ventured way off into Candy Land with this one, speculating what our club would look like in the event that we sold all of the players we don't like and Levy gave Harry some extra cash to throw around. There is zero chance that anything we talked about in this piece is going to happen, but it sure was a lot of fun to talk about. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.
Kevin McCauley: Ryan, let's imagine that we have entered a world of fantasy and wonder. Jermaine Jenas, Alan Hutton, Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, Niko Kranjcar, and David Bentley have all been sold. In addition to the money generated from their transfers, Chairman Daniel Levy has kicked in an additional £20m to Harry's transfer budget, giving us a whopping £45m to spend on brand new players. Where do we start?
Ryan Rosenblatt: Well after the drugs and alcohol and prostitutes necessary to make us a truly big club, how about Edin Dzeko? Why is he here and not in the realistic look at who to buy? Because he is being priced at £34 million right now and we can't pay his wages, but I like Candy Land so bringing in who I think is the best striker in the world works here.
Kevin McCauley: If we sell all of those players, I'd like to bring in more than one star and one decent player, though. I think we might be better off spending £15-20m on our striker and going from there. In that neighborhood, we have guys like Oscar Cardozo, Lucas Barrios, Lisandro Lopez, Luis Fabiano, and Fernando Llorente.
Ryan Rosenblatt: I'm still sticking with Dzeko. We're talking about buying the best striker in the world who is only 24. If you can snap that guy up, you do it and let him bag goals for you for years. If Spurs did buy any of the strikers you mentioned, I'd be very happy because they're all very good, but if you get a big chunk of money to spend and the best striker in the world is available, you grab him and grab him quickly.
Kevin McCauley: Okay, let's take two paths here. First of all, if Dzeko chooses a different club or Wolfsburg decide not to sell, who would be your second choice?
Ryan Rosenblatt: Well back in Candy Land I'd look to make a move for Bastian Schweinsteiger. He's said he would be open to leaving Germany and is an incredible midfielder, but if he goes anywhere he will be going to a club bigger than Spurs, sadly. So, back in a semi-realistic world, I'd see if Luis Suarez would bite (yes, terrible joke) and come to the Lane. Also, I'd grab Gary Cahill so there's someone at the back for the next several years that you can depend on to play well and actually play.
Kevin McCauley: Okay, let's go with Suarez. How much do you think he would cost? £20m? £25m?
Ryan Rosenblatt: Well £25m was the number thrown around a lot in the summer and it seems like a reasonable number. I think it could come down a bit if we wait until the summer though because he will only have two years left on his contract and Ajax won't want to get stuck selling him with just a year left in 2012. So let's call it £25m knowing that it would likely come down before it went up.
Kevin McCauley: Let's tackle this scenerio first. Suarez will cost £25m and most estimates put Gary Cahill's price somewhere between £7m and £10m. For the purposes of this excercise, we'll assume it's the high end. You've spent £35m and you have £10m remaining. In our previous pieces, we've identified defensive midfield as a need, but surely we need to buy a winger with our remaining cash after selling Bentley and Krancjar.
Ryan Rosenblatt: I'm not so sure how necessary it is to buy a winger. We need more wingers in this scenario, but who says we have to buy them? I would use the remaining £10m to bring Lassana Diarra in and shore up the central midfield. With him and someone like Jamie O'Hara getting healthy, we have plenty of central midfielders, allowing Modric to play out wide without a problem and I'd recall Danny Rose from Bristol City. Bale and Lennon as first choice wingers with Modric and Rose also as options. Add in Van der Vaart going out wide at times and I think that would be enough.
Kevin McCauley: I'm assuming that in the second scenerio, with around the same amount of money remaining, you would also buy Diarra. So, we either have Edin Dzeko and Lassana Diarra or Luis Suarez, Gary Cahill, and Lassana Diarra.
Ryan Rosenblatt: I'd be thrilled with either scenario, but would still take the Dzeko and Diarra over the trio. Getting the best striker in the world is always the right move to make if it's possible, in my opinion.
Kevin McCauley: Okay, let's examine our new team.
Spurs’ New Fantasyland Roster
M van der Vaart
Ryan Rosenblatt: So assuming there is a semblance of health at the back, we're solid enough in defense. Not incredible, but solid enough and having Diarra in front of them would make up for a lot. Add in an incredible attack with the world's best striker, Van der Vaart behind him and some scary fast wingers, I would be really surprised if that team doesn't finish top four and even challenge a bit higher.
Kevin McCauley: Yeah, that's a pretty sexy looking roster, there. Now, it's time for the hard part. Coming up with sweet players that we can buy is pretty easy, as is listing off the talent on our roster and saying "those guys are awesome," but selecting a first choice XI that works is a little more time consuming and thought-intensive. As the readers of this blog know, we're both dumb as a post. Where exactly do we start?
Ryan Rosenblatt: Gomes is keeper. Yes! I got one right. Now you try the hard things.
Kevin McCauley: I know that some people will disagree with my choice at right back, but I think that our first choice back line when everyone is healthy should be Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, and Younes Kaboul. My logic here is that, while he's less experienced than Vedran Corluka in that position, he has similar skill defending while being considerably more athletic.
Ryan Rosenblatt: I agree with you there. I've thought for a while now that Kaboul is Spurs best option at right back for the reasons you stated and would go with the same back line as you. In the midfield I'd put Diarra and Modric deep with Lennon and Bale on the wings. I know 'Arry likes Huddlestone and he is a good player, but I can't see him cracking the first XI of this hypothetical team.
Kevin McCauley: I think that this should depend on opponent. I would play Lennon and Bale wide with van der Vaart in the hole in almost all situations, but I would rotate the central midfielders based on opponent. Against a team who poses almost no threat counter-attacking through the middle, I play Modric and Huddlestone. Against the truly dangerous sides, I play Huddlestone and Diarra. In most situations, I play Modric and Diarra.
Ryan Rosenblatt: That makes sense. I can't really argue with that and I guess I would always have Van der Vaart in the hole sitting behind Dzeko. I don't know if that makes him a midfielder or striker, but whatever it would make him it would be scary for opposing defenses to see Dzeko with Van der Vaart behind him.
Kevin McCauley: We could also play a narrow 4-4-2 with van der Vaart on the right and Defoe partnering Dzeko, which could be very dangerous against teams that have an answer for Aaron Lennon. If we want to give Dzeko a rest, we still have the tried and true partnership of Crouch and Defoe available. It's like the turkey sandwich of strike partnerships. It's not filet minion, but it gets the job done and no one's going to complain. If Bale goes down, we can play Modric on the left and still have faith that our central midfielders can get the job done. The possibilities are basically endless.
Ryan Rosenblatt: So basically we go from having to actually play someone like Jermaine Jenas to having the luxury of choosing from high-quality players, some of whom will actually have to sit on the bench because of too much quality. Candy Land indeed.