Back in August when Spurs were heralded as Kings of the Transfer Market and Franco Baldini dubbed Signing of the Season there was a quiet voice from across North London suggesting otherwise. Arsene Wenger warned that “there is a technical risk when you buy more than three players as you unbalance a bit the stability of your squad.”
This message seems to have resonated with Spurs’ hierarchy too. In a statement issued earlier this month Daniel Levy commented that “we shall not look to a summer of major upheaval, but rather to strengthen in key positions”. The press rumours seem to fit this too with various reports suggesting that Spurs are after three or four key, first team ready players. As a result of this policy there are also unlikely to be many major outgoings this summer.
In terms of outgoings and incomings these can be addressed across various areas.
Spurs defending this season has been shambolic. 20 of the 49 goals Spurs have conceded in the league this season have come from individual errors. The defence is an area which needs addressing most desperately. In central defence Younes Kaboul is injury-prone, Vlad Chiriches is erratic, Michael Dawson not good enough and Jan Vertonghen appears to want out. This area urgently requires leadership and talent. At least one top quality defender is needed, possibly two if Vertonghen leaves.
Judging by the rumour mill Spurs will aim, wherever possible, to sign from within the Premier League this summer. Dejan Lovren would be a fine acquisition – technically excellent and a strong leader. Winston Reid may not be a glamorous option but could be an alternative. Steven Caulker may also be available if Cardiff are relegated. Looking abroad Benfica’s Ezekiel Garay could be an option, albeit an expensive one.
One area which definitely needs strengthening is left-back. Danny Rose isn’t good enough to be a first choice starter at a club aiming for the top 4 and ending both transfer windows with no back-up was ludicrous. Vertonghen, Naughton and Fryers tried their best when filling in but it is not their natural position.
Within the Premier League, Luke Shaw is out of reach, looking likely to fetch close to £30m. Ben Davies could be considered after impressing since filling in for Neil Taylor last season. However, left-back does look like a position that will need to be filled from outside the Premier League. Daley Blind is one option; Blind played left-back for the Dutch national team and for Ajax in 12/13 but has played central midfield for Ajax this season. Bruno Martins Indi is another Dutch option and is able to play centre-back also. It could even be that both are purchased given their flexibility, age, potential and likely cost.
Spurs central midfield is one area where Sherwood’s recent ‘much of a muchness’ comment does ring true. Sandro, Paulinho, Mousa Dembele and Etienne Capoue are all good players but are arguably too similar. None of them come close to replacing Luka Modric’s passing and this is something which has been missing when breaking down defences. One or even two of these players may be allowed to leave in the summer it may not be too detrimental to the squad. It remains to be seen how Sandro (and his agent) react to this incident with Sherwood, Capoue nearly left in January and Paulinho has been linked with an exit almost since he arrived. In terms of creativity it may be better to seek a solution internally rather than a further signing. Lewis Holtby and Christian Eriksen have both played in deeper roles for their previous teams and alongside two of previously mentioned quartet could provide the creative juices for a front three.
The wings present another conundrum. Unlike central midfield the wingers’ posses a diverse array of talents (and faults) but nobody stands out. Aaron Lennon works incredibly hard but has never kicked on in scoring or creating enough goals. Erik Lamela is the most talented but has had a torrid season and may ask to return to Italy. Andros Townsend has electric pace but Defoesque selfishness and stupidity. Nacer Chadli lacks the pace or trickery usually required of a winger but is a useful aerial presence. Christian Eriksen has played well in a relatively free role from the left but is not a winger and will likely play more centrally next season. Lamela, Townsend and Lennon all prefer the right-wing and so any new recruit is likely to be on the left.
Reports have suggested that Yehven Konoplyanka has held talks with Spurs indicating that the left-wing is one area identified as needing improvement. Konoplyanka however seems more likely to be heading for Liverpool, unless their success enables them to pursue loftier targets. Adam Lallana is one likely to be linked with a move but less likely to be successfully acquired due to his fee.
Up top, Emmanuel Adebayor has been revitalised under Sherwood but is a notoriously difficult character. Coupled with his wages being the highest at the club it may be that Levy and the new manager decide to sell whilst his stock is high. The desire for a Premier League ready striker seems even more pressing than in other positions. Romelu Lukaku has been suggested as a target and if Chelsea were prepared to sell, and Everton unable to find the funds, would be a superb signing. Danny Welbeck is a recent rumour and whilst he may be scoffed at by some he works extremely hard and his goal scoring record is actually fairly decent when playing through the middle.
Sticking to Levy’s outlined plan looks like a sensible approach. A left-back, striker and a winger, all of whom slot straight into the first eleven accompanied by minimal sales would represent a sensible summer.