Spurs fans are used to their fair share of sagas hanging over the football club, but this summer has certainly felt more soap opera than cinematic epic. From the disposal of Harry Redknapp, to the distasteful dealings of Luka Modric, even this week brought another episode of drama as Gareth Bale called out Charlie Adam for his latest act of butchery.
But all the above amounts to no more than a Dean Gaffney inspired sub plot, compared to the storyline that’s currently waiting in the wings at White Hart Lane. Because if Spurs don’t sort out their striking options soon, they’re going the way of Ethel Skinner.
It might seem strange to compare Spurs’ failure to acquire another top-class striker to the assisted suicide of a pensioner in her 80’s, but in some ways, it’s not far off.
As things stand, Jermain Defoe is the only real recognised, out-and-out frontman at the club. Without scaremongering, for a team with the aspirations of Tottenham Hotspur, that’s pretty frightening stuff.
The word is that Defoe is now set to stay at White Hart Lane, after a term last season that consisted mostly of fighting on the fringes – however successful his goal return eventually was. And it’s difficult to critique the England hitman. He’s a hugely popular figure with supporters, a striker with a genuine ability to create something out of nothing and someone whose never had a bad word to say about the club.
But is it really more than a marriage of convenience? Andre Villas-Boas looks set to implement a 4-2-3-1 which may well adapt to a 4-3-3, should the occasion arise. It seems, despite reports to the contrary, that Defoe has a difficult future at the club playing that system. It requires a more mobile, all-round striker rather than a specialist like Defoe.
Spurs will need a man that can hold the ball up and bring others into play, whilst working incredibly hard. This isn’t to say Defoe’s skillset couldn’t necessarily work under AVB. It just seems difficult to see him in a more prominent role than what he undertook last term. Considering he turns 30 in October, that’s something Defoe will have to understand for himself.
But if that really is the case, then Spurs are in even more trouble. One recognised striker, who potentially may or may not fit the new system.
There has though, however, been a strong indication that youth team product Harry Kane could be part of the first team striking set up at Spurs next term. Andre Villas-Boas appeared to give a coded indication that, “three (strikers) would be enough,” to see his team through next season. Make of that what you will, but with Defoe and Kane already at the club, does that mean he is only looking to sign one more?
If so, it is something of a double-edged sword. Harry Kane had a great loan spell at Millwall last season and Lions fans had nothing but huge praise for the recently turned 19-year-old. Furthermore, amongst all the critique and frustration that’s been aimed at Spurs’ perceived failure to promote youth talent into the first team, Kane’s inclusion would mean a lot to supporters – but only if he’s ready.
Kane is at an absolutely critical part of his footballing education. He needs to be playing competitive football, not watching it. A season on the bench at White Hart Lane isn’t going to help him. Is there any point promoting him for the sake of doing it? Kane is a talent and if Spurs are serious about him, then they must take their time. If that involves another year on loan, a la Steven Caulker, then so be it. Equally, if Andre Villas-Boas has faith, then even better. But he must stay for the right reasons.
How you read the situation at Spurs, will depend on how you like your glass. If it’s half full, then you’ve got one of the best finishers in the land on your books alongside a young, homegrown, fledgling talent. Half empty? Then you’ve got a striker who doesn’t look to fit in the new manager’s system and an unproven 19-year-old who’s never played Premier League football before. However you frame it, at least one more striker must come in. And they must be a better fit then the two at the club.
So who may that be? If you believe what the ITK’s are saying, then Adebayor is all but a Spurs player, should he be able to thrash out his exit terms with Manchester City. But you can’t help but feel there is one more sting in the tail with this one. The financial package to take Adebayor to White Hart Lane is set to be a complex one and a £5 million signing on fee for the Togo international doesn’t come without its risk. The deal is expected to go through sooner rather than later.
And if Adebayor’s acquisition is all but complete, then that would represent great news for Spurs fans. The ex-Arsenal man has his faults, as all players do, but no one can argue with his stats in a Tottenham shirt. He needs to be less wasteful in front of goal, but the fact he was and still bagged 17 league goals, is hugely impressive. He has the attributes to hugely prosper in this tweaked Tottenham formation. But one more striker must join him.
Adebayor needs genuine competition at White Hart Lane to get both the best out of him and the team as a whole. It’s by no means the only position at Spurs in which an extra player could make a significant difference. But with Adebayor especially, the extra motivation could make a real difference.
The whispers about a mercenary-like persona are likely to swirl around with intent, should he hit a stale patch again next term. But last season, was there really a genuine replacement? Defoe could sometimes play with him, but never instead of the big forward. That probably isn’t going to change next season.
There is still time for Spurs to take the decisions they need to take up front for next season. But if Adebayor does indeed make his way down to N17 on a permanent basis, he needs to be joined by another fresh face up front. It may not seem like a necessity now. Although it could be a reality six months down the track.
Happy with three strikers at Spurs? Do you stick or twist with Defoe and Kane? Tell me how you’d line Spurs up for next season, get involved in the chat on Twitter – follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me you see it.