Striker Jermain Defoe should complete his return to Tottenham Hotspur after the two sides agreed terms on an as yet undisclosed transfer fee. The fee is expected to be in the £15m range, a significant increase from the £7.5m that Pompey paid Spurs for Defoe’s services in 2008. The BBC reports that the deal will also take into account monies owed to Tottenham by Portsmouth in deals for Younes Kaboul and Pedro Mendes so just how much Pompey will net remains to be seen. It should ease some of the financial strain the club is under though losing one of their main offensive weapons will be difficult.
For Tottenham, I have to wonder if this is the right move. Spurs have not been prolific in goal-scoring this season but I don’t know that they are lacking in options up front. They already have a solid starting pair in Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko. Pavlyuchenko started slowly but has shown signs of late that he is adapting to the Premier League. They also have Frazier Campbell on loan and one has to wonder what his future at the club is now that Defoe has arrived. Campbell and Defoe are similar players and Campbell has been solid for Spurs in his limited playing time, notching 3 goals and 4 assists. Defoe has been more prolific this season but is a few years older and has also had more playing time. Is Defoe worth the big cash that Tottenham are throwing out to land him? I don’t think so as a further strike against Defoe, at least for me, is that he is cup-tied having played in the UEFA Cup for Pompey.
I feel the real trouble with Tottenham has been in the midfield and at the back. For starters, I don’t think they have the right mix of players in midfield at the moment. Adding Stewart Downing, though that is looking unlikely at the moment, may not be the right answer as questions linger about whether his potential has been overestimated. Spurs already have enough cover at the under-performing midfield position with David Bentley, Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Jenas all fighting it out for the ‘honours’. If they are looking for a left-footed player in midfield, then Gareth Bale may be a reasonable answer. He does not seem to defend well enough to be a starting left-back at the Premier League level but he has the pace and skill going forward to make a decent left-sided midfielder.
The potential good news for Spurs fans is that free agent Stephen Appiah has been training with the club and is likely to sign a deal this week. Appiah is an experienced midfield presence that will bring loads of energy and positional awareness to the side. He’s a strong two-way midfielder and will add some defensive strength to the club if they sign him.
One area that Tottenham has failed to adequately address in the past couple of transfer windows is reliable cover at the back. They are especially vulnerable at centre-half with injury-riddled Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King seemingly unable to start consecutive games. That instability makes it hard to keep clean sheets and have a solid base upon which to build. Their first choice right-back Alan Hutton has also been injury-plagued and though Verdan Corluka has been good cover defensively, he is not as proficient on the flank as Hutton.
Questions still hover over Spurs keeper Gomes as well and though his play has improved, I don’t know that he instills a great deal of confidence in anyone right now. A move for an experienced keeper like Reading’s Marcus Hahnemann or a younger prospect (with some experience) like Manchester United’s Ben Foster might be on the cards. Even if Tottenham stick by Gomes, someone to push him for the number one shirt would be a good idea.
Something had to be done at Tottenham to shake things up as a run of one win in six league games leaves them above the relegation zone only on goal difference. The initial magic of “Harry Houdini” has worn off and now the hard work begins. The Defoe signing is a signal of intention that Spurs are not willing to stand pat and hope for the best with what they have. Will the Defoe signing payoff? If they avoid relegation then of course the answer will come back yes but let’s wait to see what other moves are made before judging this deal as a positive step for the club.
What are your thoughts on the signing?