With the Premier League season set to begin on August 13, now seemed an appropriate time to check in on the lads over at White Hart Lane. Despite the plethora of transfer activity in the last two months, Spurs have been relatively quiet. Harry Redknapp is on record as saying they need to sell before they buy. Their activity thus far supports this statement. Let’s begin then by a review of what’s taken place in the transfer window thus far:
Spurs – Transfer Window (Summer 2011)
June 3, 2011 - Brad Friedel joins on a free transfer from Aston Villa.
July 1, 2011 – Jamie O’Hara is sold to Wolverhampton for an undisclosed fee.
July 1, 2011 – Steven Caulker is sent on loan to Swansea City.
July 11, 2011 – Cristian Ceballos (18) joins on a free transfer from Barcelona. Jonathan Woodgate departs on a free transfer to Stoke.
July 18, 2011 – Souleymane Coulibaly (16) joins for an undisclosed fee.
July 19, 2011 - Paul-Jose Mpoku is sold to Standard Liege for an undisclosed fee.
July 21, 2011 – Kyle Naughton is sent on loan to Norwich City.
July 25, 2011 – Bongani Khumalo is sent on loan to Reading.
Harry’s comments seem to be supported by the moves they’ve made thus far. They’ve picked up a few dollars here and there via the sales of Jamie O’Hara and Paul-Jose Mpoku. They’ve invested in 2 promising young forwards in Ceballos and Coulibaly. Anecdotally, Coulibaly won the golden boot at the U-17 World Cup this year. He’s just 16 years of age. They were also able to pick up a quality back-up keeper on a free.
I expect they’ll continue make clear the decks prior to making any sort of bigger splash, such as:
Despite finishing 5th last season, Spurs actually had a worse goal difference +9 than Liverpool who finished 6th with +15. Everton and Fulham both posted goal difference of +6 and finished 7th and 8th respectively. Every other club had a negative goal difference.
Spurs have a young, exciting, and talented team. Nearly every player in the starting 11 represents their country at the national level. Despite this however, Tottenham struggles to score goals and allows far too many in. Rafael Van Der Vaart was the signing of the year last year, and with Jermain Defoe healthy this year, we should definitely seem an uptick in his goals. Still, Spurs need to score more goals on a consistent basis. Additionally, they need to bolster the defense. We all love Ledley King. When healthy, he could be one of the best defenders in England. Due to his injury problems however, he’s become a liability the past few years. I think we should keep him because he’s still capable of some massive games. But we need a young, every day starter.
Spurs have a very talented midfield. With the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric in central midfield, followed up by Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on the wings, you couldn’t ask for much more. Sandro was an excellent signing last year as well. I think he should be the long-term replacement at central defensive midfielder for Palacios who can be frustrating at times.
I think Spurs can solve some of their defensive problems in-house. Kyle Walker has been fantastic, both on-loan at QPR (newly promoted) and representing England at the U-21 level. I think he could be an excellent replacement for Alan Hutton if they move him before the summer ends.
Though Kyle Naughton was just loaned out to Norwich City, he could be the long-term replacement for Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Benoit has moments of being very good, and he feeds the ball to Bale down the left side like nobody’s business. But he can be inconsistent at times, and I think Naughton has warranted the call-up. Naughton is currently a right-back but with that position likely filled by Kyle Walker, the other Kyle may be asked to switch to the left side.
I like Younes Kaboul as well. He’s strong and tracks the ball pretty well. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with him as the starting CB, but I think he’s an excellent backup.
Let’s face it, our strikers are pretty pedestrian. Other than Jermain Defoe, none of our forwards exactly strikes fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. Players like Pav, Keane, and Crouch are fine as substitutes, but I’m not a big fan otherwise. I continued to be puzzled by the lack of playing time for Giovani Dos Santos. He was fantastic at both the World Cup in South Africa, then again at the recently completed Gold Cup. In an offense devoid of any real creative talent, it’s puzzling that he hasn’t received more opportunities.
The signing of Coulibaly and Ceballos bode well for the future but they need a big time goal scorer now (preferably to pair with Defoe) who can get us 12-15 goals. Spurs have been unwilling to pony up the huge transfer sums paid by the larger clubs, and are falling behind in the race to sign talent. There have been rumors of a loan deal for Emmanuel Adebayor. That said, what options are available at forward that would fit in well with what Spurs are trying to build there?
If you look at their moves in the past, Spurs play a bit of moneyball. They know they can’t compete with the larger clubs when it comes to money, so they look for undervalued or out of favor players (i.e. Van Der Vaart). Here are some other players Spurs have been linked with this summer:
Pablo Osvaldo (Espanyol)
Scott Parker (West Ham)
Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid)
Joe Cole (Liverpool)
Giuseppe Rossi (Villareal)
Asamoah Gyan (Sunderland)
Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City)
Mirko Vucinic (Roma)
Gary Cahill (Bolton)
The elephant in the room of course is Luka Modric. A report came out today that Chelsea could be prepared to offer £27M + Daniel Sturridge. If true, I think that’s a deal Spurs should make. Sturridge is one of the best young strikers in England and they’d be getting nearly £30M on top of that with which to pursue another player. I think it makes some sense.
The bottom line is, Spurs have to add some pieces to bolster both the attack and the defense in order to improve their goal difference somewhat. The big EPL clubs are spending massive amounts of money this year. Liverpool looks to be very good, as well as the usual foursome of Chelsea, Man City, Man United, and Arsenal. If Spurs want to qualify for the Champions League next season, they need to act soon.
Please post your thoughts or comments on how Spurs can improve for the upcoming season.