The 25-man squad rule and rebuilding for next season
We have a lot of work to do this summer to clear the deadwood.
This year’s squad
This was the 25-man squad list that we submitted at the start of February:
1. Ben Alnwick
2. Benoit Assou-Ekotto
3. Sebastien Bassong
4. Vedran Corluka
5. Peter Crouch
6. Carlo Cudicini
7. Heurelho Gomes
8. Michael Dawson
9. Jermain Defoe
10. William Gallas
11. Tom Huddlestone
12. Alan Hutton
13. Jermaine Jenas
14. Younes Kaboul
15. Bongani Khumalo
16. Ledley King
17. Niko Kranjcar
18. Aaron Lennon
19. Luka Modric
20. Wilson Palacios
21. Roman Pavlyuchenko
22. Steven Pienaar
23. Stipe Pletikosa
24. Rafael van der Vaart
25. Jonathan Woodgate
Others to consider
Added to our squad this summer will be the returning loanees Kyle Naughton, David Bentley and Robbie Keane, all of whom are over 21.
It is also important to note that the following players will no longer be able to be considered under-21s from next season, and will therefore have to be named in the 25-man squad if we want to use them:
Giovani Dos Santos
That takes us to 33 players – eight of whom would obviously not be able to play in league games.
As an aside, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Jonathan Obika and Oscar Jansson all have one more year as U21 players – effectively “freebies”.
I imagine that the following will all leave:
Cudicini – contract ending.
Woodgate – contract ending.
Pletikosa – loan contract expiring.
Bassong – allegedly wants to return to France.
O’Hara – likely to make permanent move to Wolves.
dos Santos – likely to make permanent move to Racing Santander.
Even if those players leave, we will likely need to either not include others or sell more players in order to improve the squad, and so it’s no wonder that most of the newspapers are reporting that we will be having an end of season clear-out.
The Independent reported on Thursday that offers would be considered for Roman Pavlyuchenko, Niko Kranjcar, Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluka and Wilson Palacios (as well as Robbie Keane, Jamie O’Hara, Giovani dos Santos, and David Bentley). I would personally add Sebastien Bassong, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch to this list, as all of them are a level below where we would like to be. I would also put on record at this point, that I wouldn’t sell either Corluka or Kranjcar – Kranjcar in particular seems certain to be leaving (with Roma supposedly interested), but I would expect Corluka to stay.
Redknapp’s signings so far
My concern for the summer is Redknapp’s previous transfer record at Spurs. Below are his signings so far:
2010/11 Steven Pienaar – £3m
2010/11 Bongani Khumalo – £1.5m
2010/11 William Gallas – free
2010/11 Rafael van der Vaart – £8m
2010/11 Stipe Pletikosa – loan
2010/11 Sandro Ranieri – £6m
2009/10 Younes Kaboul – £5m
2009/10 Eidur Gudjohnsen – loan
2009/10 Niko Kranjcar- £2.5m
2009/10 Sebastien Bassong – £8m
2009/10 Peter Crouch – £9.5m
2009/10 Kyle Naughton- £4m
2009/10 Kyle Walker – £4m
2008/09 Robbie Keane – £15m
2008/09 Pascal Chimbonda – £3m
2008/09 Carlo Cudicini – free
2008/09 Wilson Palacios – £12m
2008/09 Jermain Defoe – £16m
Transfer fees taken from the wonderful Topspurs.
Whilst recognising that a number of these players were bought at a time when we were desperate for any improvement (and also some “big characters”), it’s worrying how we have paid huge figures for relatively average players during Redknapp’s spell. The only players that can be said to have been truly successful signings are Sandro (who, at £6m, looks a real bargain), Walker (who has great potential and is already worth at least double what we paid), van der Vaart, and Gallas. Other than Gallas, rumours suggest that Redknapp was not heavily involved in any of these transfers. A number of his signings have had some good spells (Kranjcar, Bassong, Defoe, etc), but a fair few have been total flops (Pletikosa, Keane, Chimbonda).
In revealing this morning that his scouts suggested that Luis Suarez was, essentially, not what we needed, I worry about whether we are capable of shopping around and finding the appropriate players at appropriate prices. The late bids in January for Llorente, Rossi, Forlan, Aguero, etc etc, suggest more of a scatter gun approach than a disciplined and targeted approach to identifying potential signings.
What type of players do we need?
I would imagine that we will need to sign the following (at least), and probably in this order:
2/3 x strikers
1 x goalkeeper (competition for Gomes)
1 x centre back (to replace Bassong/Woodgate)
1 x left back (competition for Assou-Ekotto)
1 x right winger (competition for Lennon)
Whilst we should make plenty of money with the outgoing transfers, most of these funds could easily be sapped by signing one or two top forwards, and it will be vital that we shop around and look for bargains elsewhere.
Many names have been mentioned, particularly in terms of strikers, and in truth, most would be an improvement on what we have; the difficulty is that we are looking for strikers that are prepared to accept no Champions League football. Of those potentially available, Falcao of Porto would be my preference as first-choice, with someone like van Nistelrooy/Elmander (both available for free) and a younger player that could qualify as an under-21 (Lukaku if that deal is possible, or Wickham if not) brought in as back-up. The difficulty is that these players will not be cheap, and it is important not to be held to ransom. Cheaper alternatives are always there, but making use of the scouting network is crucial.
Including returning loanees and players who are now to old to be considered “under-21”, we have 33 players fighting for the 25 squad places next season (before we make any signings). It will be vital to move out of favour players on before bringing new faces in; we don’t want to end up with lots of players on big wages who are not even eligible having been left out of the 25-man squad.
We need to strengthen our forward line as a priority and if this means selling all four of our strikers in order to be able to afford one or two top class replacements, so be it.
In identifying transfer targets, it will be important to consider the ages of potential targets. For example, Phil Jones and David Hoilett of Blackburn, or Connor Wickham of Ipswich could represent useful transfer targets as they would not need to be named as part of our 25-man squad.