LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: A general view of the stadium ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on October 2, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
I know I said I wouldn't be writing one of these until December at the earliest, but goddamn I miss transfer rumors. My life seems empty and meaningless without them. Not even a plethora of funny pictures and GIF's can cure my yearning for unsubstantiated Tottenham Hotspur related transfer rumors.
At the request of some of our Twitter followers I'll take time to look at what Tottenham Hotspur need to in order to further strengthen their squad and who they should be targeting to do just that. Fortunately the rumor mill hasn't completely ground to halt, but for the purposes of the week's post I'll mostly be fabricating these rumors.
Tottenham Hotspur have, despite a rough start, have risen to sixth in the league and still hold a game in hand over all the teams in front of them. The Club has won four consecutive league matches and has outscored opponents ten goals to two in those games.
Last season Tottenham struggled, at times, to score goals while also being shaky at the back. The uncertainty at the back remains, this is Spurs after all, but with Brad Friedel in goal and Ledley King playing a larger role the team is a bit more consistent than in years past. The addition of Emmanuel Adebayor has helped in the goal scoring department as has the renewed form of Jermaine Defoe. Finally, the purchase of Scott Parker has solidified the midfield and given the team a certain amount of grit that was lacking in the past.
Having said all that, Tottenham Hotspur still have holes that need to be filled. What are they and who should Daniel Levy be looking at to fill them?
One thing that seems to be ever-present at White Hart Lane is injuries. Particularly injuries to the spine of the team. Ledley King is never not injured. Michael Dawson and William Gallas, last season's first choice centerback pairing are both out for at least a few more weeks. Tom Huddlestone has gone under the knife for ankle surgery and Sandro is just coming back from injury. It makes sense then that those are two areas that need strengthening. Additionally, with Aaron Lennon hurt and manager Harry Redknapp still lacking confidence in Giovanni dos Santos we seem short on the right wing. Finally, given the sale of Peter Crouch and the failing form of Roman Pavlyuchenko striker might be a position that needs help.
Let's start at the back. The obvious choice to come in is Gary Cahill. He'll be eligible to leave on a free this summer and Bolton Wanderers are pretty awful right now. Bolton played hardball over the summer and refused to accept what they deemed "derisory offers" from various clubs. Well, now they have to sell Cahill or risk losing him for nothing. The price should come way down. If we pay more than £6 million for him I'd be disappointed.
I personally don't think too highly of Cahill, but I wasn't a big fan of the Parker and Friedel signings either, so what do I know. I'd much prefer someone a bit younger (Cahill is 25) who we could develop. We have good experienced defenders and having another player that expects first team football might upset the apple cart. I'd be much more inclined to bring in a youngster, like what United have done with Phil Jones, and play him as needed, but mostly just develop him. Someone like Gremio's Mario Fernandes or Goias' Rafael Toloi. The young Brazilians would be good development players and could probably play immediately in Cup games. Also, Barcalona starlet Mark Bartra was linked with Spurs over the summer and that might be a good signing too.
The center of midfield used to seem very crowded at Tottenham Hotspur. However, the summer transfer period saw the likes of Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Jenas, and Jamie O'Hara depart with only Parker coming in. Given the injuries Tom Huddlestone and Sandro Spurs were left dangerously thin in midfield. Jake Livermore and Tom Carrol have come in and played fairly well in cup matches, and in Livermore's case the league as well. Livermore seems to be good cover for Parker/Sandro/Huddlestone, but the cover for Luka Modric is much more tenuous.
Early in the season Redknapp utilized Niko Kranjcar in Luka Modric's playmaking role in central midfield. That didn't work too well. It's hard to develop young creative players like Modric because they need games to really flourish (see Dos Santos, Giovanni and Taarabt, Adel). For this reason I'm hesitant to bring in a player labelled the next Luka Modric. It is, however, difficult to balance the desire to bring in a more established player with the potential need to replace Luka in the long-term. I remain somewhat optimistic that Luka would be inclined to stay if Spurs finish in the top four this season. So, Spurs should be looking for a more experienced midfield playmaker.
An experience midfield playmaker that is available for a relatively low price and is willing to come in and be used in squad rotation seems like something that might be difficult to find. As a matter of fact I can't think of any off hand. The name I kept coming back to was Martin Petrov, but I don't know how much I like that. Other players I would consider, and might be available at a reasonable price include Steven Davis from Rangers, Scott Brown (though he's more similar to Parker) and Ki Sung-Yeung from Celtic.
Similar to our situation in the center of midfield, the sale of David Bentley left Spurs with no real cover for Aaron Lennon on the right wing. People like Kevin and I can clamor for playing time for Giovani dos Santos, but we all know that Harry simply isn't going to give him too many minutes in the league and even if he did the Mexican international's days in North London are numbered. Yago Falque may be viewed as the long term cover, but I'm not sure he's there yet. I won't be too upset if no cover is brought it here, but I'd like to see someone come on. I won't waste any time speculating about who it could or should be yet, but I'm sure this is something we'll talk about at length over the summer.
Finally we reach the most important part: Striker. I made it pretty clear on the podcast a couple of weeks ago that we need at least one if not two strikers in the transfer window, particularly if Roman Pavlyuchenko heads back to Russia like most of us are predicting. Emmanuel Adebayor is only at the club on a season-long loan and there is no guarantee that he will even be willing to sign for Spurs in the long-term. That would leave Spurs with Jermain Defoe and "Hurricane" Harry "Sugar" Kane as the only first team strikers available next off-season.
Let's make one thing clear. The Club needs a player like Leandro Damiao. The failure to get a deal tied up over the summer is likely going to cost Spurs millions of pounds. I'm of the opinion that we must sign Leandro. Even if the price is between £20 and £30 million, which would break the Club's transfer record. Tottenham now seem to face competition from Liverpool for the Brazilians signature, but Spurs HAVE to win the race for Leandro's services. He's a replacement for Adebayor and his presence for the second half of the season gives Leandro time to learn and adapt to the Premier League without having to carry the team.
Again, if Pavlyuchenko goes another striker will need to be brought in as well. I'd like to see Tomas Necid of CSKA Moscow come in. He'd be an excellent target striker for the club, but I think we're far more likely to see a player that can play in a deep lying forward role like Robbie Keane used to play or in a role similar to that which Defoe currently plays. This player could be someone like Guiseppe Rossi, Abel Hernandez from Palermo, Alberto Paolschi from Milan (though he's on loan at Chievo for the season), or Henrique from Sao Paulo (not Ganso, the other one).
I feel much better now that I've done that. Thanks for letting me get that out of my system. Once Football Manager 2012 comes out on October 21st I won't have to write these things anymore. I'll just be able to live them out in the video game. What are your thoughts on the club's weaknesses? Any players you'd like to see brought in?