Having clinched the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City for a deal believed to be in the region of £5m, Tottenham clinched their most important piece of business of the entire summer, so with that in mind, is it all starting to come together at White Hart Lane?
The short answer is ‘maybe’, and while I’m not trying to be facetious (it just comes naturally), there are still a lot of incomings and outgoings to contend with as Daniel Levy seeks to get the best bang for his buck, while new boss Andre Villas-Boas attempts to make his mark on the side he inherited from predecessor Harry Redknapp.
Michael Dawson, somewhat surprisingly, looks as if he’s heading towards the exit door after being deemed surplus to requirements by the Portuguese boss for being too slow and cumbersome. While these are of course legitimate criticisms of Dawson, given the Ledley King had retired before the start of pre-season, he was the club captain elect and while Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul looked the first-choice pairing, it’s a shock that both Steven Caulker and William Gallas are preferred at the moment.
QPR and Stoke are the teams in for him and the £8m mentioned seems a fair fee for a 28 year-old with past injury problems, but it’s still an extremely bold move from Villas-Boas and a great show of faith in Caulker, who spent last year on loan to huge success at Swansea.
Elsewhere, Danny Rose looks as if he’s edging towards a loan move to Sunderland as Kieran Richardson seeks a move further south, while Tom Huddlestone has been made available for loan, with Stoke again interested, not to mention the fact that David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and Giovani Dos Santos are thought to be available for transfer. That’s a hell of a lot of activity left to potentially go through in just over a week, particularly when you bear in mind that Tottenham did come fourth last season, after spending most of it in third place.
There’s also the giant elephant in the room that is this summer’s most repetitive transfer saga involving Luka Modric’s move to Real Madrid, which looks set to be completed later this week. Replacing the Croatian playmaker will be of paramount importance and the fees mentioned range from £24.5m to £39.5m, which more than anything, just highlights that while nobody really has a clue, that the level of negotiation taking place is of a reasonably high risk level as we edge closer to the end of the transfer window.
Nevertheless, the arrival of Adebayor was a much-needed signing and even with Villas-Boas tinkering the the club’s style and how they press off the ball and higher up the pitch, he is certainly more suited to the lone striker role than Jermain Defoe is, despite a decent goalscoring display in their opening day defeat away at Newcastle. The Togolese forward finished last campaign with 17 goals and 11 assists in the league and he neatly threads the play together well, while simultaneously acting as a focal point for their attacks and his return is a welcome one.
While I don’t buy into the criticisms of chairman Daniel Levy, for the way the club is run is extremely responsible and prudent,Tottenham have been left in a position where they are conducting most of their business after the start of the season, which is far from ideal. Adebayor, much in the same way that Robin van Persie at Arsenal, hasn’t had much of a pre-season to speak of and the deal has taken, partly due to Adebayor’s outlandish request that the transfer fee be paid to him directly, a full two months later than everyone initially though and their progress, in the short-term at least, may still be hindered.
Porto midfield Joao Moutinho has been heavily linked with the club when Modric departs, but given their stance over Chelsea’s pursuit of Hulk, the club are known to be tough negotiators and Portuguese international could cost as much as £30m, but at 25 years-old, he would represent a sound long-term purchase for the future.
There had been rumours that the club had targeted Roma midfielder, the hugely talented Miralem Pjanic as a cheaper alternative, but the player’s agent Michele Gerbino had this to say on the proposed £12m deal, telling reporters: “Tottenham made a move for him, but both Roma and Pjanic thanked them for their interest and politely declined the offer. This is not the time to move or consider any other offers. The lad has tied himself to this project and first of all wants to do well at Roma. Besides, the club locked him down. Basically, he will not be moving. Pjanic had a very positive year, adapting easily to Serie A and you can see that from how quickly he learnt to speak Italian. He’s very happy at Roma.”
With Huddlestone and Jenas both looking to be moved on and with Scott Parker still injured, the club need to get somebody in to replace Modric and Gylfi Sigurdsson, as some may think, was never bought as his replacement as he plays a lot higher up the pitch, merely to supplement the existing options within the squad.
Some strength in depth could also be needed out wide to compliment the existing duo of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale. Both are key to the shape of the side and whenever one is injured, the entire balance is affected, with Adam Johnson and Willian targeted. The fact that Johnson is available now for a much more reasonable fee of around £10m, as opposed to the ridiculous £15m mooted earlier in the summer, and that he’s already adjusted to the Premier League could see him preferred.
So where else do the club need to strengthen? Up front, with youngster Harry Kane still third-choice, they could still do with another striker, but Leandro Damiao’s price in negotiations with Internacional has fluctuated wildly and it seems as if the club are trying to nail jelly to a wall with that one.
They also require a new goalkeeper eventually too, although it looks as if they are going to persists with 41 year-old Brad Friedel surely in his final year at the club, maybe even his career, but they’ve so far buckled at Lyon’s £15m valuation on Huge Lloris – it’s not a top priority as a replacement for Modric and another striker perhaps are, but it’ll need addressing sooner rather than later, with neither Gomes or Carlo Cudicini anything more than back-up now.
It’s strange that so close to the end of the transfer window, that the club is still in such a state of flux with concerns to their transfer activity. The next nine days represent a pivotal point in their season both on and off the pitch and if they manage to conclude all of their business in that time, I see no reason why they can’t finish in the top four again this season, but at the moment it’s a big ‘if’, even if the Adebayor deal is a step in the right direction. The current top eight, the majority of teams are in a period of transition, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea the main example, and while Tottenham certainly are themselves, they appear to have more potential at the moment for future deals, which could change where they ultimately finish up by the end of the campaign.
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