January 3, 2011
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I’ll preface this by saying that not much is supposed to happen in January; last year we didn’t do too much business, bringing in Eidur Gudjohnsen on loan, and re-signing Younes Kaboul. However, the year before was Redknapp’s first window in charge, and we were far busier, signing Wilson Palacios, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane, Pascal Chimbonda, and Carlo Cudicini, as well as selling Hossam Ghaly.
With the Premier League as close as it is, the likes of Chelsea and Man City will surely spend, and that means that other clubs may be forced to buy in order to stay within reach.
Redknapp seems to have set his stall out, saying:
“If we could find the right player that would make the difference we would do it.
The chairman is up for is up for it and he’s pushing me more than I’m pushing him. But it’s hard to find that person who you think would take you to the next level.
They are talking about £35million for the boy Dzeko [at Wolfsburg], but is he worth it? It would scare me spending that sort of money unless I was 100 per cent sure.”
However, although he’s definitely “not a wheeler and dealer”, it wouldn’t be any surprise to see him… well, wheel and deal.
The priority – a top striker
The priority simply must be a striker. The majority of the media don’t seem to have picked up on the fact that our strikers are, by some distance, the weakest area of our squad; they see the names Defoe, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko and Keane, and they see four international calibre strikers, with plenty of experience and plenty of fire-power. The truth is a little different.
Whilst Crouch has scored one goal in 1110 minutes of Premier League football this season, Defoe hasn’t scored in the league since 17th April – 837 minutes without a league goal (his last one was a penalty vs Chelsea). He has played 1001 minutes since his last league goal from open play.
Whilst Pavlyuchenko’s goal record is much more impressive (see my article ‘Why Pavlyuchenko should be first choice in the league (warning, stat alert!)‘) – currently averaging 160 minutes per goal – his all-round game frustrates our fans and his fellow players. He is a predatory striker, but neither has a Berbatov-esque technique in controlling or holding up the ball, nor Rooney/Tevez (or even Kevin Doyle) type work-rate to make up for it.
And then there’s Keane. He is a shadow of the player that he was before the Liverpool fiasco and, whilst I personally still class him as a Tottenham legend, the sooner he looks elsewhere for first time football, the better for all parties.
Where Manchester United have Rooney and Berbatov, City have Tevez and Balotelli, Arsenal have van Persie, Chelsea have Drogba and Anelka, and Liverpool have Torres, we simply don’t have a striker that quite matches up.
The question is whether top strikers will be available in January – with Edin Dzeko due to be sold for £34m (and therefore pricing anyone except Man City out of the market), and Dortmund said to be only considering offers of £20m plus for Lucas Barrios, it’s hard to see where such a player may come from. Karim Benzema has been linked with a loan move, but Real Madrid don’t seem to be in a position to sell a forward, with Gonzalo Higuaín, their only other top-class striker, due to be out for 3-4 months.
Adebayor is another who has been linked, and City will surely have to sell him to be able to accommodate Dzeko, but with the news today that Real Madrid are sniffing around, hopefully the links with Spurs won’t re-surface.
Van der Vaart’s arrival has in some way eased the urgent need for a new striker, but has also meant that we can imagine how good we could be if he had someone of real quality to dovetail with.
Central midfield reinforcement
Redknapp is clearly a big fan of Scott Parker, saying recently “I like Scott Parker but for about £15million and at 30 years old he is not a Tottenham buy. Daniel wouldn’t buy a player of that age. It’s a lot of money and big wages.” I totally agree with Redknapp’s logic, but the fact that he pronounced his admiration suggests that he is looking at reinforcements in the middle of our midfield.
Personally I think we are OK in this area (particularly if Beckham signs), with Jenas in his best form for eighteen months, Modric continuing his wonderful run, and Huddlestone still to come back in. Of course we also have Palacios, Sandro and O’Hara as cover.
However, we know that Redknapp likes Diarra, and if he were to become available, I’m certain that he would be in for him. He has had a run of games for Real recently, though, and I’m not sure that they would be willing to let him go, particularly in the middle of the season.
With Rafael van der Vaart’s arrival, we were reminded of the opportunistic streak possessed by both Levy and Redknapp. Rafa seemed to come on to the market from out of nowhere in August, and we pounced to sign him for a cut-price fee. Redknapp clearly hadn’t identified him as the “missing part of the jigsaw”, but his influence has obviously been massive this season.
Similarly, David Beckham seems to have come on to the loan market at a good time for us. A player with the much sought after “winning mentality”, who could add some much needed experience to a young squad (even younger if Keane does leave). He is a role model both on the pitch and off, and renowned as a fantastic trainer. He would offer useful midfield cover even if he doesn’t start games, and the merchandise revenue would mean that any transfer would surely pay for itself.
Another player that could be available cheaply is Steven Pienaar, who is out of contract in the summer, and has long been linked with us. At a reported £2m, it is a relatively risk-free move. Whilst he is a good player, I don’t see him as better than what we have and would, therefore, consider him a signing ‘for the squad’. However, there tends to need to be a “cycle” with squad players and, with Kranjcar likely to leave (either on loan or permanently), Pienaar would offer very useful cover on the left.
We have a number of players who are seemingly unhappy at not getting first team football; indeed, Redknapp has confirmed that this is the case with Bentley (“…he obviously wants to go. He’s not happy because he’s not playing and I understand that.”) and Keane (“Robbie is the same. He’s too good not to play”), and I’d imagine that Giovani, Kranjcar, and maybe even Bassong are in a similar situation. Kranjcar has been linked with various clubs, including Celtic, whereas there has been talk that Bassong may favour a move back to France. We are seemingly also keen to get 37 year old Cudicini off the wage bill, with Matt Law from The Express tweeting this morning that “Redknapp would like to shift carlo cudicini out this month which would also free up the 23 shirt for a certain someone…”
We have a number of young players who may also move on – for example, Ben Alnwick, who was on loan at Leeds briefly (but didn’t get any games), and Calum Butcher, who has had a trial at Ipswich Town.
There has been talk that Kyle Naughton, currently on loan at Leicester City, may join the Foxes permanently for £1.5m, whilst Danny Rose had been linked with a permanent move to his loan club, Bristol City, until he got injured.
John Bostock has been recalled from his loan spell at Hull, which was supposed to be a season-long loan, and there are whispers that he may be available for transfer on a permanent basis.
With Woodgate and O’Hara back in training but lacking match fitness, I think it likely that both will go out on loan for the remainder of the season. Woodgate has been linked with moves to Leeds and Cardiff, whilst O’Hara continues to be mentioned in connection with West Ham (although I personally think Fulham is a better fit).
We have recently recalled Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, John Bostock and Dean Parrett from loan spells for various reasons (see my recent article ‘Spurs loanee update‘ for more information), and I think it’s highly likely that at least a couple of them will find new loan clubs for the back end of the season (perhaps League One and Two rather than Championship). It may also be wise for Redknapp to send Sandro out to get some much needed experience.
There are a number of existing loan deals that are due to end in January:
Kyle Naughton – Leicester City (date unknown)
Kyle Walker – QPR (January 3rd)
Adam Smith – Bournemouth (January 3rd)
Paul-Jose M’Poku – Leyton Orient (January 8th)
Jake Livermore – Ipswich Town (January 29th)
Eddie Howe is ‘hopeful’ that a decision can be reached to extend the loan spell of Adam Smith, whilst Neil Warnock put forward a case for QPR to keep Kyle Walker on ‘Goals On Sunday’ this week, hinting that we may want to send him to a Premier League club (although I think we will wait on Hutton’s injury before making a decision either way).
M’Poku will almost certainly stay at Orient for the remainder of the season, having impressed in his spell so far, and, as mentioned, Naughton will probably stay at Leicester, either on loan or on a permanent basis. Livermore is expected to return from Ipswich once his loan ends. If this is the case, I would imagine that he would find another club, with a view to a permanent summer transfer.
We will have to submit a new 25-man squad list at the end of January transfer window, but at least for this season, any players who were 21 as of 1st January 2010, but are 22 as of 1st January 2011 will not need to be registered.
We shouldn’t have too many problems making up the 8 home-grown players, but we will have to trim our squad if we want to include Woodgate and O’Hara (plus any new signings older than 21) in our squad list:
1 Heurelho Gomes 15/02/1981 29
2 Carlo Cudicini 06/09/1973 37
3 Stipe Pletikosa 08/01/1979 31
4 Ben Alnwick 01/01/1987 24 *
5 Ledley King 02/10/1980 30 *
6 William Gallas 17/08/1977 33
7 Michael Dawson 18/11/1983 27 *
8 Benoît Assou-Ekotto 24/03/1984 26
9 Alan Hutton 30/11/1984 26
10 Younes Kaboul 04/01/1986 24
11 Vedran Corluka 05/02/1986 24
12 Sébastien Bassong 09/07/1986 24
13 Jonathan Woodgate 22/01/1980 30 *
14 Kyle Naughton 11/11/1988 22 *
15 Luka Modric 09/09/1985 25
16 Tom Huddlestone 28/12/1986 24 *
17 Aaron Lennon 16/04/1987 23 *
18 Jermaine Jenas 18/02/1983 27 *
19 Wilson Palacios 29/07/1984 26
20 Niko Kranjcar 13/08/1984 26
21 David Bentley 27/08/1984 26 *
22 Jamie O’Hara 25/09/1986 24 *
23 Rafael van der Vaart 11/02/1983 27
24 Jermain Defoe 07/10/1982 28 *
25 Peter Crouch 30/01/1981 29 *
26 Roman Pavlyuchenko 15/12/1981 29
27 Robbie Keane 08/07/1980 30 *
In case you’re wondering why the likes of Bale and Sandro are missing, the following are all counted as under 21, and don’t need to be included on our 25-man list:
Sandro Ranieri Guimarães Cordeiro
Giovani Dos Santos
In summary, hold on to your hats.