So despite finishing fourth in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur will miss out on Champions League football because Chelsea won it all in Munich. Because they will only be playing in the Europa League, the strategy for this summer’s transfer dealings will have to be less ambitious then they will have hoped.
Had they been playing Champions League football next season, Tottenham probably would have been able to hold on to Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. Now, one if not both of them will most likely depart for pastures new and Spurs will have to look to the transfer market to fill the void that their departures will create.
As a replacement for Modric, Tottenham may go after playmaker Dorlan Pabon. The midfielder, who plays in Colombia for Atletico Nacional, has attracted attention from Malaga, Marseille, Porto, Roma and Udinese. Should Modric leave, he could be the answer to Spurs’ problem and an offer of around £7 million could see him playing at White Hart Lane come August.
A more tried and tested option would be to go after Clint Dempsey. The American midfielder has proven his Premier League worth at Fulham and now may seek out a fresh challenge, not to mention higher wages and the chance to play alongside more illustrious colleagues. He may not be a like-for-like replacement though, as he plays in a more advanced role than Modric.
Gareth Bale’s boots will be harder to fill. When they thought they would be playing in the Champions League, Spurs were planning a swoop for Lille winger Eden Hazard. Tottenham was believed to be in advanced talks with the Ligue 1 Player of the Year, but now that deal looks like it may fall through.
Milos Krasic’s name was another being bandied about in Tottenham transfer talk. The Serbian winger can play on both flanks, ideal for Redknapp who loves to let his players roam around. Krasic’s style of play means he would fit right in to the system, but again the question must be raised: why would a player leave a Champions League club (not to mention Serie A champions) for a team only playing in the Europa League?
While Spurs do have depth at the centre-half position, they are far from assured at the back. William Gallas, while still a very useful player, is the wrong side of 30, and the fitness of both Michael Dawson and Ledley King is a constant worry for Harry Redknapp. Ryan Nelsen and Sebastien Bassong are both industrious enough, but are unfortunately not up to the standard Spurs demand. That leaves Younes Kaboul as the only top-class player at the position who is able to play week in week out. That is unsatisfactory for a team who are looking to cement their credentials as a top four team.
The buzz seems to be that Chairman Daniel Levy is close to beating Arsenal to the signature of Jan Vertonghen, the 25-year-old Belgian defender who this season helped Ajax win the Dutch Eredivisie. Tottenham has reportedly bid £10 million for him but he may be tempted by AC Milan’s attempts to snag him. Failing this, Tottenham may make a bid for Ryan Shawcross. The Stoke captain may not set the world alight, but he is solid.
Harry Redknapp is said to be very keen on bringing Emmanuel Adebayor back for another season. After impressing this season for Spurs, the Togolese forward may return on another loan deal from Manchester City. Failing that, Spurs may be able to talk him down from his current demand of £175,000 per week, but don’t count on it. To heap further misery on the Spurs, it would seem as though missing out on the Champions League will also cost them the signature of Loic Remy as well. The Marseille striker was supposed to be Adebayor’s replacement, but now it looks like Spurs will miss out on him.
A viable alternative would be to sign either Papiss Cisse or Demba Ba, both from Newcastle. Both have impressed this season for their club and the Magpies are known to offload their premier talent in search of profits (see Andy Carroll, Joey Barton). Another name in the mix is Leandro Damiao, who may follow the path set by midfielder Sandro from Brazilian club Internacional to White Hart Lane.
Another option for the Lilywhites is to buy Giuseppe Rossi from recently-relegated Villareal. Once one of the most highly sought-after players in Europe, Rossi may now be available on the cheap, albeit with a huge risk attached. Having suffered two cruciate ligament injuries this season, it is a doubt whether he will ever return to the high standard of football he once reached. However, at a price further reduced because of Villareal’s desperation to sell, Redknapp may feel he’s worth a £10 million punt, especially as is side is in tremendous need of a goal-scorer.
Finally, Tottenham may look to bring in another keeper as cover for the ageing Brad Friedel. Friedel has played well at times this season, but at others has looked all of his 41 years. Kasper Schmeichel has been very closely linked to the club and he may be one for the future.
Missing out on the Champions League this season won’t mean Spurs are doomed to fall back into the days of perennial mediocrity. It will mean however, that their ambitions for the summer and possibly the next few seasons will have to be revised. Instead of building on their recent successes, they may have to settle for consolidation of their overall position. This will be a long and testing summer for the North London club.