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Tottenham Hotspur’s Summer Transfer Activity: Filling In The Gaps

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:

Transfer Rumors

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.

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  1. ahnaf

    August 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

    you know i have not seen that brad friedel going such a hurry to move to tottenham from aston villa but he has been a good goalkeeper

  2. Nelson

    July 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Spurs got to let go of their dead weight. The prices being proposed are ridiculous! 9mil for Crouch is insane. How can their value stay the same when there a whole lot older and are coming off a horrid season. If Spurs NEED to sell before they buy then they better off load at bargain prices.

  3. Daniel

    July 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Good article — I like the logical approach, breaking needs and strengths instead of some of the non-informative posts on various football forums.

    I also agree that Modric for 27 + Sturridge is too good to miss, if it’s real. For a long time I felt we should hold on to Modric no matter what, but I’m open to his leaving for the right price. Kranjcar is ready and willing to take over if we’d give him a chance (we SHOULD keep him either way and bring him into regular rotation).
    Also, if we hadn’t drug our feet this transfer window Pjanic seemed like a golden opportunity (and cheap at ~10m) for a solid playmaker who could take over for Modric (and he’s only 20?). Too bad…

    I could see us going 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 depending on opponent. Either Hudd and Sandro (I would also keep Palacios as a backup for either as a destroyer type midfielder and let the other be more of a deep-lying playmaker) as DM with VdV/Kranjcar/Gio as an attacking mid or reverse that with Hudd or Sandro playing deep and both VdV and Kranjcar as attacking mids.
    Either of these would require a classif CF who could hold play up and be dangerous enough to keep the defense focused on him, letting the attacking mid(s) move more freely.

    If getting rid of Modric means selling Bale too (I’d more more sad to lose Bale) he’d bring enough money to buy at least 2 quality replacements. My suggestions:
    Erikson, Goetze, Hazard, arautovic, Kagawa.
    I’d still rather keep Bale, though.

    Lastly, for defense, I agree we should look to our youth players but we need to transition into that over a year or two with veteran players adding some mettle to the back. Rose and Walker will be good fullbacks and should start to be given playing time (especially Walker, who should soon be preferred over Corluka). Dawson is great along with Gallas, but we should start phasing Gallas out now, before his age forces it on us. Kaboul is nice cover across the back, but I don’t want him as a starter anywhere.
    I’d like to see 1 young CB brought in to the team now who, like Walker, can help the team now but have time to grow into the starting pair with Dawson. My choices:
    Mamadou Sakho (21) 1st Choice
    Nicolas N’Koulou (21)
    Jan Vertonghen (24) — older but more experience
    Ignacio Camacho (21) — cover for CB but more a replacement for Palacios

    This was a longer post than I meant to make, but I’d love to hear comments, especially about my recommendations.

    • Jason Platzer

      August 1, 2011 at 8:13 am

      I like both Sakho and Vertonghen. I don’t know much about the others. I’m a Borussia Dortmund fan as well and Kagawa and Goetze are both fantastic. I doubt we could get them but they’d both be excellent replacements for Modric in my opinion.

      I like Erikson alot but so does everyone else. I think he’d be difficult to get because Ajax know his value. Still, they have a different model than everyone else. They develop talent and sell it. So everyone is available for the right price. We don’t see the huge transfer sums out of the Eredivisie as we do out of say La Liga or the Premier League. So looking for talent there isn’t a bad idea. I also happen to like Ajax so there are plenty of players in that club that could help us.

      The only problem I see with a 4-2-3-1 is that you need that striker to score lots of goals, and with only 1 striker you need your 3 CAM’s to contribute as well. If we have Defoe and say another solid but unspectacular striker than I think we need to have a 4-4-2 so we can get more offense on the field.

  4. TJ

    July 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I am a huge Spurs fan and I like our squad. The squad is entertaining, successful by most clubs standards and the past two seasons have been a lot of fun. That being said, there are a few things Spurs need to address. The first is the large amount of deadwood we have on our squad. Guys like Bentley, Palacios, Gio, Jenas, Keane, maybe even Crouch. These guys aren’t awful players, they just don’t have a place on a top EPL squad. The problem is, we aren’t willing to cut our losses with these guys. Spurs asking for too high of a price. Sell them for a decent deal and move on.

    Now, on to the squad for the coming season. The back four is nearly set in my opinion. You start the season with Walker at RB, BAE at LB, King and Dawson as your CBs. Kaboul, Corluka, Gallas and Rose providing backup. I feel good about that group. However, King is certainly a risk and it is unrealistic to expect him to play more than 20 games this season. So, finding another CB is on the list. I was a big advocate for Samba but it appears that won’t happen.

    The midfield is certainly the team’s strength. I would probably start a 4-2-3-1 as this team is currently constituted. If you can get a top-flight striker or two, that could change. Sandro and Huddlestone could start as the two holding mids. VDV, Modric and Bale as the three. If you sell Modric, sign someone to replace him or plug in Niko Kranjcar/Aaron Lennon/Steven Pienaar (whoever is on form). Plenty of options in the midfield. As much as I love Modric, if Chelsea offers $27 million and Sturridge, I would do it.

    Now for the position of much angst for Spurs fans. Our opinion of our strikers ranges from mediocre to downright awful, ship them out for a penny. I think last season was a bit of a fluke as Defoe won’t be that bad again if healthy and Pav is still capable of scoring any given day. I would sell Crouch and Keane, keep Defoe and Pav. Give Coulibane and young Harry Kane a chance and bring in Sturridge or Vucinic. Leandro Demaio may be coming in January which would be a great fit. The strength is in the midfield. An increase in goals and a healthy Ledley King will see Spurs back in the top four. COYS!!!!

  5. dan

    July 28, 2011 at 1:55 am

    What about Danny Rose? I think he is our best up and coming player and will probably have a break out season this year, more than likely taking over for Benoit at LB. I like Gallas and Dawson as our CBs too, Gallas saved our arse last season

    • Jason Platzer

      July 28, 2011 at 6:40 am

      I agree about Gallas. I thought he was very steady back there considering the injuries to Ledley and Dawson.

      I like Danny Rose alot as well. I fear though that they may move him to LB (to replace Gareth Bale who never should have been a LB), just to get him on the pitch. I think he’s got some goal scoring ability that might be wasted at LB. Of course, Danny Alves scores a lot of goals as a defender so it might be alright.

  6. Gaz

    July 28, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Anecdotally, Coulibaly won the golden boot at the U-17 World Cup this year.”


  7. tommysunshine

    July 27, 2011 at 11:24 pm


    Woodgate claims, contrary to reports, he was never offered a deal at Spurs. If you factor in how many games he played for us over the last few years, it got to the point where it stopped making economic sense. But it would not be unlike Woodgate to prove us wrong next season.

    • Matthew

      July 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm

      I have searched high and low to find the correct story as to why Woodgate left. I have heard both reports as well. It is a shame I am a Spurs supporter for many years and have admired Woodgate since his days at Leeds. I know he has had a hell of time with injuries. But he has already started playing for Stoke in the pre season and I got a feeling it may come to bite us back in the end.

  8. Gregs

    July 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    As a relatively new Spurs follower, and Yank at that (heaven help the MLS All-Stars please), help me understand why Jonathan Woodgate signed with Stoke on a pay-for-play but wouldn’t sign with Spurs for the same deal? Too much water under the bridge for the old club and looking for a fresh start somewhere else? I would think with the uncertainty on the back line he would have a decent shot at playing major minutes if healthy. He seems like a talent that never got on track the last couple of years.

  9. tommysunshine

    July 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    In life I’ve come to learn that if you have no new insight to shed on an issue, it’s best not to say anything at all. As David Bowie once said, generate light don’t reflect it.
    Jason- and all of those who have commented with opinion devoid of originality and reflections I have read countless times before- please heed these words before weighing in on my darling Spurs.

    • Jason Platzer

      July 28, 2011 at 6:38 am

      Thanks for the input. This piece clearly wasn’t designed to be the most original piece. I just wanted to get a debate going on what Spurs could do to improve. I’ll work on something a bit more thought provoking down the road.

  10. Greg

    July 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I reckon, selling Modric would be a huge mistake. Spurs have to show a sign of intent if they aim to be ambitious, and selling our most consistent and best player is not in line with that.
    They definitely need to sell Keane and Crouch, and pick up a new striker or two, I think Forlan and a younger up and coming striker would be ideal.

    Defensively, I like Dawson and Benoit is great moving forward, I think we need a new CB and LB and we’d be pretty much set for bigger games, maybe pull in some older players for smaller games as we seem to lose those, probably a result of complacency and thinking we’re better than the other team. We need some level headed players who can focus during the smaller games.
    When the pressure is on, Spurs are great, but to get back up in the top 4, we need consistency.

    • Jason Platzer

      July 28, 2011 at 6:36 am

      Consistency is definitely an issue. That’s a great observation. We do tend to rise to the occasion in big games only to lose or tie away matches to the likes of Stoke and Bolton. Since Benoit is our left back, I reckon we’re set there. We need to solve RB. I like Hutton but I think its time to promote Kyle Walker. If they can get a few $$ for Hutton to use on a striker, then I say do it. They also need depth in central defense, there is no question about that.

  11. Matthew

    July 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    If the news story coming from Chelsea is true, I agree take it. Spurs would be getting a talented young player and spending money. Plus, if a player wants to leave as Modric has indicated it is best to let him go. Team unity is too important. I think the midfield is strong but more can be done in the back, Spurs bleed too much. Up front needs a lot of work. I am a big fan of Robbie Keane but it’s time to go. Thanks for the nice and interesting story.

    • Jason Platzer

      July 28, 2011 at 6:35 am

      Thanks Matt. I think Robbie Keane has some quality about him as well but he just doesn’t get the opportunities under Rednapp. I agree, it is time for him to go.

      • David Harris

        July 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

        Keane does have some quality, but he is getting up there is football age. In my mind he could really help a 2nd 10 club trying to avoid relegation, but really has a no place on a side with top 4 aspirations.

      • Matthew

        July 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

        Keane did well on loan with Celtic but not so good at West Ham. I think he still has talent but it just seems he isn’t clicking with the players on the field. He just hasn’t been the same since he came back from Liverpool, I think that destoryed him for us.

  12. JL

    July 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Tottenham have the best midfield in the world. They need to switch to the dominant force of the 4-4-2, with Bale, VDV, Modric, Lennon straight across and Defoe and Crouch up front to start finally scoring goals. I can’t stand Tottenham, but know they have the potential to be one of the world’s best. With Gomes gone and Friedel in, the defense should be just fine.

    • Tampa COYS

      July 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Yet Gomes was just named the starter yesterday for the 13 Aug opener. Dos Santos seems gone to Sevilla on 2 Aug, so no need to pine over him. the sales are coming and Spurs will still add new striker(s) by end of window.

    • dan

      July 28, 2011 at 1:53 am

      Hate to break it but Modric and VDV suck at tracking back and helping with defence. If you want them both in CM then we have to have a 4-1-4-1 for a CDM. There is really no way around unless one of them takes defensive duties.

      • Jason Platzer

        July 28, 2011 at 6:34 am

        I agree with the idea of the straight 4-4-2 but I’m also partial to a 4-2-3-1 considering how many goals they give up. They could put Sandro and Palacios as holding defensive midfielders, with Van Der Vaart as CAM and Lennon and Bale on the wings with Defoe up top. In this scenario Modric has been sold so I didn’t take him into account. I think this would help defensively because they’d be able to add Sandro and Palacios in defensive midfield. The drawback to this is that it would require more goal scoring from the midfielders and a return to form for Defoe. If they were able to sign a top striker though, it might help.

        • David Harris

          July 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

          Your 4-2-3-1, is not a bad idea if Modric is sold, but please leave Palacios out of the side. Last season he was such a liability and in South Africa last week he showed he will still occasionally just give the ball away, a top club really should want no part of him. How about Huddlestone instead. Would love to somehow see Niko Kranj?ar in the side more often, he’s a proven scorer at the international level and was brilliant off the bench last year. He is likely gone this summer but if not Harry really needs to find him minutes.

          • Jason Platzer

            July 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

            Great points David. I’m not a fan of Palacios either. He gives the ball away all the time. But he is a good defensive midfielder, and being closer to the defense he wouldn’t be relied on to pass as much. This would obfuscate some of his poor passing. I like Huddlestone too, so I have no problem with including him.

      • Peter

        July 28, 2011 at 11:22 am

        If Modric is sold, Bale is sold. So factor that in “Spurs fans”. Listen- lifelong Tottenham fan here. Have seen too many great sides get shattered by the sale of one or two players. Specifically Carrick and Berbatov in recent years. It looks like we have only just come around from that sale and I am not prepared for the club to go into another rut of 4-5 years.

        Keeping Modric is like signing a top player this offseason. lets face it- he is SO good! Modric doesn’t score goals/produce goals directly but he gives passes to people who then go on to produce goals. He is far and away the best ball provided on the pitch- has this way of using the outside of his boot to trick people and send Bale into open spaces on the left.

        Next- I think we’re being extremely harsh on Defoe. He is a great striker who got injured, came back from injury, got red carded, spent more time off the field and just didn’t get back on track after that. Lest we forget how he got injured- scoring a hattrick for England.

        Really, the only areas we NEED to fill this summer are centre back and left back. Danny Rose could slot in at left back, kyle walker at right back. Dawson is one of the best in England right now but needs a partner week in and week out. Combination of Kaboul/Corluka/Gallas will not help.

        Getting rid of “deadwood” as others have alluded to is important- then bringing in a few more players to challenge for spots will be good. Healthy competition is always good, plus remember Harry has said he is going to use a rotation side for Europa league games.

        Lastly, Chelsea, Liverpool, City and United have all made big moves this summer. Arsenal biggest losers. Spurs haven’t done much. So we’re still in the reckoning. Win the games vs the small teams and compete vs the big teams and we’re back in Champions League next season

        • David Harris

          July 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

          Peter excellent points about Modric, really hoping Levy sticks to his guns and keeps him. Also agree on Defoe, he should be given a chance to get back to form. I know every club has injury woes, but it seemed like Spurs had more than most last year and at bad moments.

          Not sure why you are down on BAE, I watched every Spurs game last year and until he got hurt I would have easily called him the most consistent Spur. Excellent helping on the attack and setting up Bale, and very hard to defeat on defense.

          I think Harry will strike late in the transfer window for Striker help after a few more players are moved. Not sure any defensive help is on the way.

          • Jason Platzer

            July 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

            Peter and David, great points all around. I agree we should keep Modric and Defoe. Modric is fantastic and Defoe struggled only after injury last season.

            But I disagree that Defoe is all we need at striker. When he’s on, he’s capable of 20 goals. But we don’t get enough additional goals out of Pav, Keane, Crouch, etc. For us to take another big step, I think we need to find another big goal scorer to pair with Defoe up top in either a traditional 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1.

          • Peter

            July 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

            How do you go about playing VDV, Defoe and another striker??? 4-4-1-1 means VDV plays behind striker.

            Bale, Modric, VDV, Lennon leaves noone to back track. What do you do then?

        • Peter

          July 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

          My problems with BAE are that he has these spurts of idiotness. He has given many a penalty away from running into the back of an attacker- almost as if they know now… when BAE is behind you, slow down- he’ll topple you for a penalty.

          Also, he gives the ball away far too much. He tries for these long balls up the field (ala Dawson) and they just dont work

          Lastly, he has no right foot. I am not discriminatory against people with only one foot, but he can do nothing with his right foot and doesnt have something (like Lennon has speed) to overcome his one footedness.

          • Nic

            August 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm

            I’m with David here. BAE was the most consistent player on the pitch last year. solid one v one defense and the ability to push up behind Bale. Super happy with the left flank.

            Center back beside Daws though is absolutely the biggest need.

  13. Jay

    July 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Need a better defense n by signing a midfielder would certainly push up the forward and in the next season can finish up in the better position may be over liverpool ….

    • Jason Platzer

      July 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      I definitely agree that they need more help in defense. They let far too many goals in last season.

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