The next 20 or so days left of the January transfer window will be pivotal in Spurs’ season. It gives Tottenham the chance to show their intent and their ambition to those clubs in and around them.
It was pleasing to see another Spurs fan on Talksport thinking along those same lines. He suggested Harry Redknapp should buy Peter Odemwingie, Wayne Bridge and Frank Lampard. Wow! Now that is intent and ambition I thought. Those players would definitely make the two Manchester clubs sweat in fear, give Arsenal and Chelsea the jitters, and make Liverpool sit up.
Not quite. In fact, the only thing he got right was that Spurs must buy a striker.
The deadline day sale of Peter Crouch in last year’s summer transfer window left the club with three first team forwards. At the time it seemed a great move. Crouch did not suit Spurs’ style of play, three strikers were sufficient for Harry Redknapp’s preferred 4-4-1-1 formation and the choice of Emmanuel Adebayor, Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko offered the team variety.
Four months down the line, only one of those arguments still remains in favour of selling Crouch. The 4-4-1-1 formation has frequently been changed to a 4-4-2 resulting in a lack of depth in the forward area. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on the quality of the front line: Adebayor has bolstered the attack but his hot and cold form frustrates, Defoe doesn’t offer enough in a game and Pavlyuchenko is Pavlyuchenko.
Redknapp therefore is not looking for a back-up striker, but, as he likes to put it, “a special player” who can make the difference. So where do Spurs find him?
If he is seeking a young, talented and upcoming forward then 22 year-old Leandro Damiao would be perfect. Since 2010, the Internacional man has hit 42 goals in 74 games and his playing style appears well suited to the Premier League. An imposing figure at 6ft 1in, the Brazilian has all the physical qualities of a target man, yet his technical qualities such as his footwork and clinical finishing make Damiao an all-round striker who has the ability to score all types of goals.
But if Redknapp feels a more experienced option with a proven track record is required then he could go two ways. The first is to buy a striker in his prime who is doing the business right now – Roberto Soldado of Valencia being a fine example. The second option is to purchase a player who is vastly experienced and is seeking a new challenge – Diego Milito being a possibility.
Once Redknapp has his list of striker targets drawn up he must then find a new winger who can provide both cover and competition. This view was reinforced when watching the West Brom game on Tuesday night; Rafael Van der Vaart found his effectiveness limited on the right-hand side and the team suffered as a result.
What usually happens is that Van der Vaart drifts in and allows space for Kyle Walker to exploit which in theory is good. But, when the opposition double up on Walker the right side becomes non-existent which gives the team very little on that side. And as Spurs rely on width and pace, a winger is integral to their style of play.
The loss of Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon to a season-threatening injury could become a major issue for Spurs. Redknapp has already seen the effect of Lennon’s recent – but fortunately – short absence. The current options for back-up are not out-and-out wingers: Steven Pienaar has never really got going whilst Niko Kranjcar is far too slow to play on the wings. Put this on top of Andros Townsend’s recent loan departure to Leeds United and it seems that Redknapp may be lining up a move for a versatile winger who can cover either flank.
With a striker being the priority though, money may not be as readily available to spend in this area, so Redknapp will have to buy a player who has both potential and is available. There are two targets that immediately spring to mind: Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett and Werder Bremen’s Marko Marin (Find out more about these two in Total Tottenham’s previous article: The Window: Midfielders).
But Spurs must not just spend in attack. The defence may also need some reinforcements.
The centre-back situation is a peculiar one. At the moment the club has five central defenders on its books but with an injury ravished Ledley King you could almost say four. Then you take into consideration William Gallas’ recent calf tear against West Brom which could see him sidelined for an extended period of time.
There are also rumours that Queens Park Rangers may bid once again for Sebastien Bassong, who might be tempted with first team football at Loftus Road. Hypothetically – if he were to leave – then Spurs would have two fit centre-backs, as well as extra cash to replace the Cameroonian.
The classiest acquisition Tottenham can make to improve this area is Jan Vertonghen. One of Europe’s brightest centre-backs. He was integral to Ajax’s championship winning season last year and the 24 year-old will see a move to the Premier League as a step in the right direction.
Chris Samba is another achievable target, but the problem with signing the likes of the Blackburn man and Vertonghen is that they want guaranteed first team football. We have already seen this with Gary Cahill’s move to Chelsea, where it is rumoured that the Englishman wants first team football clauses put in the contract (Tottenham could also look to hijack that deal).
Nonetheless, Redknapp has a knack of winning players over and hopefully he can work his magic when finding a new centre-back.
The least of Spurs worries you would feel is a goalkeeper but a long-term successor to Spurs’ current number one Brad Friedel is sorely needed.
At the moment the squad has three first team goalkeepers, but with Brad Friedel and Carlo Cudicini very much in the twilight of their careers and Heurelho Gomes a forgotten man, the club must look to the future. And as you’ll see with the best teams in the world they have goalkeepers that will be there for many years to come, so a long-term replacement is what Redknapp should be targeting.
The argument for buying Krul would be that he is familiar with Premier League football whereas Ter Stegen would have to adapt. A deal involving Krul could also potentially see him loaned back to Newcastle for the remainder of the season which would be good for all parties involved.
However, if the club opted for Ter Stegen then they would be buying in potential. The German youngster has the highest save percentage at 83% of all Bundesliga goalkeepers this season and he has been a big part of Gladbach’s dramatic rise to the top.
Also, to ensure the 19 year-old will be ready for the demands of the Premier League Redknapp could bed him into FA Cup matches, giving him some early experience before he starts the 2012/2013 season.
Come January 31st will Spurs still be searching for that “special player”, or will the deals have been wrapped up for an important month of games ahead? On previous showing, the former seems likely but the circumstances are now different, so it would be nice to see Redknapp and Levy go all out in this month’s transfer window.