In the wake of that monumental away goal at the San Siro two years ago in the Champions League Round of 16, it seemed that Tottenham Hotspur were on the verge of breaking into the big time. Outlasting bitter rivals Arsenal in the world’s greatest club competition, the tide finally appeared to be turning in the battle for North London. With a double digit points lead late into the following season, Spurs’ fans were dreaming about a title challenge, all too eager to shout “Mind the Gap” from the rooftops as the two clubs looked to be heading in opposite directions. Then, as if doused in ice water, Tottenham fans awoke to find that this dream was just that. After a massive collapse coupled with an Arsenal surge (topped off by West Bromwich Albion’s Martin Furlop’s instructional video on “How not to be a Professional Goalkeeper” on the final day of the season), Spurs once again found themselves relegated to Thursday’s on ITV4.
This year, Spurs had a season that would be celebrated by most clubs, but despite new manager Andre Villas-Boas helping the club achieve their highest point total in Premier League history, they still found themselves on the wrong side of the top four. Tottenham have signed quality players and brought in one of the most promising young managers in world football, yet have still been unable to break back into the Champions League. The problem is no secret to Tottenham supporters; the inability to replace Dimitar Berbatov, who signed for Manchester United in the Summer of 2008, with another world class forward.
Spurs are a fish too big for a lake, but too small for the ocean. When they signed a striker like Louis Saha, fans are disappointed that he isn’t of the required skill for Champions League qualification, but when they are linked with a player like Roberto Soldado, Chairman Daniel Levy is slammed for chasing unrealistic targets. Fabiano, Vucinic, Llorente, and most recently David Villa have all spurned Spurs, and this inability to lure a top quality striker to White Hart Lane has been holding them back as a real threat to achieve a top finish in the league.
The club’s current crop of strikers are not bad footballers, and would be the envy of many clubs in the England. Everton would love to have a player like Jermain Defoe, and the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor would be a monumental day in the history of West Ham United. However, would either start a meaningful game at Arsenal or Liverpool? Would Tottenham fans take either of those players over Luis Suarez or Lucas Podolski? While Defoe and Adebayor have their moments of brilliance, they are far too inconsistent to start on a club that has top four ambition. Defoe is best used as a super-sub like Chicharito at Manchester United, and for every world class performance given by Adebayor (late last season at Chelsea), he will have five that make Spurs look like they are playing with ten men.
In order to get a striker that can propel Tottenham into the upper echelon of not just English but European football, they are going to need to take a chance on a young player with massive upside. A few years ago that would have been Andy Carroll, which turned out to be a disastrous move for Liverpool. In the present however, the man of the hour is Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke. After banging in 19 goals for one of the league’s worst teams as a 22 year old, Spurs may have to splash the cash if they want a potential 30 goal scorer of the future. Villa have no obligation to sell, but with Benteke putting in a formal transfer request, Spurs may be able to lure the Belgian to London. Spurs are not a club that have the financial resources to buy an already established player in their prime like Fernando Torres or Robin van Persie, but if they gamble on a young player, it could be the difference between more Thursdays in Switzerland on ITV4, and the Champions League Anthem once again being played at White Hart Lane.