The progress Tottenham Hotspur have made this season remains indisputable. Mauricio Pochettino has taken the Lilywhites from the peripheries of the Premier League’s elite to one place short of the division’s summit and the north London club are now on course to record their highest final standing since the 1962/63 campaign.
Yet, Spurs ultimately fell short to Leicester City in the battle for this season’s Premier League title and that’s been a common criticism of the White Hart Lane outfit in recent years – always coming close, but never quite getting themselves over the line.
As their title-bid-ending draw with Chelsea on Monday night descended into an all-out brawl, the current Spurs squad’s limited experience – they boast the youngest roster age in the Premier League – really began to show.
So with that in mind and the summer transfer window just around the corner, here are FIVE experienced and readily available stars the Lilywhites should try to sign before the start of next season…
An unusual career has seen Lassana Diarra ply his trade with Arsenal, Chelsea, Portsmouth, Real Madrid, Anzhi Lokomotiv Moscow and most recently Marseille. The tough-tackling midfielder faded into obscurity after leaving the Bernabeu in 2012 but now 31 years of age and back in the French top flight, Diarra is enjoying arguably the strongest form of his career – averaging 2.9 tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 3 dribbles and 52 accurate passes per match to re-establish himself in the France national team.
Spurs have already been mooted as potential summer suitors amid news Diarra’s Marseille contract includes a clause that could allow him to leave for free at the end of the season. The well-travelled and highly experienced enforcer would be a fantastic addition to provide competition to Eric Dier at the base of Tottenham’s midfield.
Martin Caceres’ contract with Juventus is due to expire at the end of the season, giving Spurs the chance to add significant experience and vast defensive depth to their squad at incredibly little cost.
Indeed, the 29-year-old’s career has been divvied up between spells with Villarreal, Barcelona, Sevilla and Juventus, winning six league titles and one European title in the process, and has seen him fill a variety of positions ranging from wing-back to centre-half.
The 68-cap Uruguay international blends tenacity and technique in typical South American style. But he’s been involved in a few off-field issues in recent seasons and that could ultimately deter any interest from the Lilywhites.
Reports of Gabi seeking a last hurrah in the Premier League emerged earlier this year and despite his age, the 32-year-old would be a good fit for Mauricio Pochettino’s philosophy, having thrived under a similarly industrious style of play at Atletico Madrid.
Since returning to Vincente Calderon in 2011, the tireless midfielder has lifted a Europa League title, a Copa del Rey and a La Liga title with the Mattress Makers – captaining them from 2012 onwards – whilst reaching two Champions League finals.
Gabi is a proven leader and winner who has been central to Atletico’s formidable rise under Diego Simeone. The Lilywhites may be a little put off by the centre-mid’s age but with his contract due to expire at the end of next season, Atletico may accept letting him leave on the cheap this summer.
Versatile winger Ashley Young boasts nearly 300 appearances in the Premier League and in addition to a series of fantastic campaigns with Aston Villa, lifted the title with Manchester United back in 2013.
Injuries have severely affected the former England international’s Old Trafford career but he’s really come into his own since Louis van Gaal took the helm last summer, establishing himself as an emergency full-back whilst providing old-fashioned directness and width when deployed in his familiar position of wide man.
He may not seem like the most natural of leaders and the 30-year-old has struggled to shake off the ‘diver’ stigmatism. But Young’s shown real signs of maturity in recent years and if United are prepared to surrender him on the cheap, he could prove to be a shrewd addition to the Tottenham squad.
Tottenham have already been linked with a summer swoop for Mario Mandzukic and to acquire a striker with such a proven scoring record, hitting the net consistently in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and the Champions League, would be a real coup for the north London club whilst addressing their need for a fellow forward to ease the goal burden on Harry Kane.
Furthermore, the 29-year-old is vastly experienced, boasting 65 caps for Croatia and 67 caps in European competitions and even lifting the Champions League title with Bayern Munich back in 2013. Rumour has it Juventus are open to parting with the lanky front-man this summer and a move to the Premier League would certainy appeal, as the only top flight he’s yet to conquer.