Elsewhere in last night’s International action, away from England’s football lesson at the hands of the rejuvenated French, Niko Kranjcar was again scoring a brace for Croatia to make it five goals in his last five games for the national side. Yet for his club the Tottenham midfielder has been far more of a spectator this season than last, making only three appearances in the Premier League this campaign, only one of which was from the start. This lack of time on the pitch has led to the player issuing statements questioning his future with the club. Certainly Spurs are blessed with very talented attacking midfielders, indeed their three best players; Modric, Van der Vaart and Bale all play this role. So is there simply no room for the clearly talented Croat at White Hart Lane anymore?
Doubters will look to his lack of pace and perceived loss of fitness over the summer as reasons for perhaps shipping Kranjcar out. And although never a player renowned for his pace, he has certainly appeared rather sluggish when used this campaign. And there is no point in trying to hang on to a player who does not feature much, is unhappy in that role and appears almost out of his depth when he is involved. In his sole start against Bolton he offered little, but neither did the rest of the team as they were out muscled in a highly competitive but scrappy game. It was not an ideal match though to bring back a technically gifted player who had not played for a while. And therefore you cannot draw too damning a conclusion.
However in my article regarding who Spurs should let go in January I defend Kranjcar believing that he still has a lot to offer the club. His form from last season was exceptional. He played a major role in aiding the club into the Champions League, scoring a crucial winner with a fantastic strike in a tricky visit to Stoke and was the clubs top scoring midfielder. And his form and strike rate for his country shows that this talent has not diminished, it just requires certain conditions to flourish. Conditions which I believe given time can be found at White Hart Lane. He is also one of the club’s more versatile midfielders able to play on either flank or down the middle. I feel at the moment Kranjcar should be that first substitution Tottenham go to when lacking a creative spark. Definitely filling the right midfield position ahead of David Bentley when Lennon is out injured as he is and pushing him for a regular first team place on that right flank when he is fit and playing. Hopefully this would demonstrate to Kranjcar that he is still wanted at the club and give him the game time that he dearly needs in order to again show his best football, whilst not overly pandering to a player’s wishes just because they are threatening to leave.
My only concern is that the decision might not be made on an entirely football based decision. Having only cost the club £2million on his arrival, Kranjcar could easily be let go without much financial loss, quite probably even at profit. More expensive acquisitions however, such as Bentley, would not fetch anywhere near what they cost on the market at the moment. And rather than lose a lot of money by selling for a much lower amount. There could be the temptation to hold on to this player, or at least give him more time to find some form than his financially less costly team mate.