Spurs: Signing Holtby And Diame Would Secure A Top Four Finish

The defeat to Leeds highlighted the deficiencies throughout the squad, and primarily the midfield. If Spurs want to secure a Champions League place next season, signing the duo is a necessity.
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The defeat to Leeds highlighted the deficiencies throughout the squad, and primarily the midfield. If Spurs want to secure a Champions League place next season, signing the duo is a necessity.

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Tottenham Hotspur supremo Daniel Levy is not your usual chairman of a football club. For one, by all accounts he negotiates all contracts and transfer fees at the club he runs, unlike many chairmen who do little more than give a load of money to some subordinates and let them get on with running a club, only coming back to sack a manager or give them a vote of confidence when things aren’t going well. Secondly, despite his attempts to move the club to Stratford, he’s fairly popular with fans. And lastly, in the same way Michael Owen loves a boring tweet or ITV2 adore terrible documentaries about Peter Andre, Daniel Levy can’t resist a great deal.

It’s his love of a pretty penny, of deals that see him regularly gazump other clubs with astonishing deals that must require a great deal of chutzpah to offer to clubs with a straight face that make him popular with many fans. Extracting almost £50m with all the skill of a surgeon for Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United was great business. Selling Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios as a pair for £20m to Stoke was astonishing, while getting an actual transfer fee for professional disappointment Alan Hutton - ignoring the fact he bought him in the first place - was a true masterpiece of negotiating. He’s pretty good at buying players for under their market worth too.

Purely as a negotiator, Levy is in a class of his own. The UK’s current deficit could be solved in a stroke if the government unleashed Levy on those countries that owe the government money. And on Thursday, when Sky Sports News operate on amphetamines and football fans doing dull office jobs spend more time than usual on the BBC Sport home page for the twice yearly extravaganza than is Transfer Deadline Day, Levy will have to be at his canny, eviscerating best. Those who operate the fax machine at Spurs may have to work even later than they usually do on the last days of January and August.

That is because as Spurs’ defeat to Leeds in the FA Cup on Sunday proved, reinforcements are needed and purchases of new players are necessary. Spurs’ squad depth, vaunted for so long when Harry Redknapp was in charge, was proven to be as mythical as the Lochness Monster as a team with at least four regular starters missing was deservedly beaten by a Leeds side that itself was missing Luciano Becchio.

If there any positives to be taken from losing an eminently winnable cup game to lower league opposition, it is that it highlighted Spurs weaknesses and lack of squad depth more than perhaps any other game this season. If Villas-Boas was struggling to pitch the idea of spending a lot of money on players to Levy, the defeat to Leeds was the perfect advert for the idea. It perhaps isn’t a coincidence that within hours of the defeat, Levy was negotiating with Schalke head honcho Horst Heldt to seal the signing of Lewis Holtby and end a transfer saga that rivalled the Twin Peaks ‘who killed Laura Palmer’ storyline for sheer length.

The position behind the striker, where Holtby will surely play, has been a problem all season. Starting Defoe and Adebayor has seen them try and completely fail to form a cohesive partnership. Playing a midfielder instead of a forward has been better, especially with Clint Dempsey improving after a very poor start. Gylfi Sigurdsson, signed to play in that position in the summer, has been desperately poor at times, playing with the manner of a terrified school kid used to having his head shoved down the toilet by school bullies, in essence a footballing Milhouse Van Houten.

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The signing of Holtby should solve this particular issue. He’s young, technically gifted and skilful, all the things young German players are these days. With one great winger in Bale and another winger in great form in Lennon, he’ll have help around him. He is already guaranteed to arrive in the summer and once Levy has haggled to the last detail, should arrive for a fee between £1m and £2m this month.

To miss out on his services for the rest of the season over a £2m transfer fee would be ludicrously petty. If he turns out to be the difference between qualifying for the Champions League and missing out once again, spending £2m to win the £30m, £40m on offer for a spot at Europe’s elite would obviously be well worth it.

Away from Holtby, all season Spurs have proved to be very sensitive to changes and very dysfunctional without certain players. Mousa Dembélé, on the bench for the first hour against Leeds has proven to be absolutely pivotal to Tottenham’s hopes. Since he signed from Fulham, with him in the side Spurs have only lost once all season.

Without him, Spurs had their worst run of the season. Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore have been woefully inadequate in his stead when he’s been missing. Sandro being out for the rest of the season puts a lot of pressure on Scott Parker. In a team built around young, quick players, Parker’s 32 and only marginally quicker than Huddlestone, who himself is only marginally faster than your average gas cooker. Mohamed Diame is younger and more athletic than the pair of them and is available for only £3.5m. If Levy can get him to sign on the line which is dotted, he’d be a valuable addition

A striker would seem to be an obvious need, with Defoe currently out of form and Adebayor currently playing for Togo in the Africa Cup of Nations and when playing for Spurs doing so with all the interest and enthusiasm of a bored intern playing solitaire on the office computer for the umpteenth time.

However, there are no strikers available that fit this particular bill. They are either too expensive like Mario Balotelli, or unlikely to be good enough at the level Spurs are at, like Gary Hooper. All season, creating chances against packed defences rather than finishing chances has been a problem. Making sure the midfield and defence is in full working order may well be what Levy and Villas-Boas focus on between now and Thursday, rather than the forward line.

Full back is also an issue, with Kyle’s Walker and Naughton along with Benoit Assou-Ekotto the only specialist full backs at the club. Another one would bolster the squad nicely.

Tottenham are having a very good season. They are clear in 4th place of Everton and Arsenal, with 3rd place by no means impossible with Rafa Benitez having all the popularity of a train delay at Chelsea. If Spurs buy the right players by Thursday midnight, not only might they finally make Jim White’s head explode on air, but they could give themselves a golden opportunity to finish in the top four, end a season ahead of Arsenal for the first time in a generation, keep hold of their best players and with a new stadium on the way; make their future a very rosy one indeed.