Tottenham… Here’s the starting XI you could’ve had

The January transfer window ended on more of a whimper than a bang, with the biggest deal of deadline day coming in the form of Chelsea’s £23million swoop for Juan Cuadrado – a transfer that had been talked about for a while now.

Tottenham were particularly quiet on the inward front last month, with their only arrival coming in the form of League One prodigy Dele Alli, who has now been loaned back to MK Dons for the remainder of the campaign.

So, should the Lilywhites be praised for not falling into the many traps of the winter market, or is this a window of missed opportunities for Spurs?

Perhaps this select XI, combining the club’s top performers with rumoured January targets, will shed some light on the debate.

GOALKEEPER – HUGO LLORIS

Rather than adding to their goalkeeping department in January, Tottenham spent the month keeping Hugo Lloris’ potential suitors at bay.

The France international has enjoyed some incredible form this term, and he’s currently third in the Premier League’s saves rankings with 61 in 23 appearances, in addition to recording six clean sheets.

The 28 year-old signed a five-year contract extension in the summer, in theory protecting him from a winter departure. But as rumours of Manchester United’s David De Gea moving to Real Madrid gained traction, The Express speculated that Lloris could be targeted as his replacement.

Eventually however, neither deal took place.

RIGHT BACK – MARTIN MONTOYA

Having emerged on Spurs’ radar ahead of January 2014 and recently declared himself to be ‘100%‘ committed to leaving Barcelona, I find it incredibly surprising that none of Martin Montoya’s mooted suitors launched a swoop for him last month.

The right-back is considered to be one of the more promising La Masia products of recent years, exploding onto the La Liga scene with a stunning long-range strike against Malaga during the 2012/13 campaign – a huge testament to his quality on the ball – and also winning two European Championships with Spain’s U21 squad.

He’s continued to impress in a cameo role but has grown frustrated with his recent lack of game time in preference of Dani Alves, managing just four starts in the league this term.

The 22 year-old would have been a fantastic addition to the Spurs squad, being equally adept on either defensive flank, and his £16million release clause should have been within the North Londoners’ financial reach last month.

Such a bid failed to materialise however, and reports since claim Montoya’s about to extend his contract at the Nou Camp.

CENTRE-BACK – JAN VERTONGHEN

Jan Vertonghen is still yet to rekindle the imperious, ball-playing form of his inaugural Premier League campaign, but we have seen a mini revival in the Tottenham centre-back this season.

His performances have significantly improved since being partnered with summer signing Federico Fazio, and he’s now averaging an impressive 1.6 tackles, 1.9 interceptions, 6.7 clearances and 2.2 successful aerial duels per match, with a pass completion of 87%.

Having rejected a contract extension in September, many speculated the Belgium international would be poached by another club in the winter window.

Liverpool, Manchester United and even local rivals Arsenal were listed as potential suitors, but the 28 year-old remains a Spurs player for now.

CENTRE-BACK – FABIAN SCHAR

This inclusion is no diss to the aforementioned Federico Fazio, but Tottenham had the opportunity to snap up one of European football’s brightest defensive prospects last month in Basel centre-half Fabian Schar.

The 23 year-old has excelled in the Champions League over the last 18 months, averaging an incredible 3.3 tackles, 4 interceptions and 6.7 clearances per match, and also impressed in a cameo role for Switzerland at the World Cup.

He boasts a supremely confident, front-footed style, reminiscent of Jan Vertonghen’s, and with his contract now into its final six months, he was linked with a plethora of top clubs ahead of the January window.

The Metro believe he could have been signed for just £9.5million, but Schar remains with the Swiss Champions.

LEFT BACK – BEN DAVIES

Having entered the January window with an incredible five players capable of filling in a left back – Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Ben Davies, Kyle Naughton and Benoit Assou-Ekotto – No.3 is one of the only departments that didn’t require Tottenham’s attention last month.

Instead, the Lilywhites spent the window separating the left-back wheat from the left-back chaff; Naughton moved to Swansea for £5million and Assou-Ekotto had his contract terminated, evoking a rather hilarious response on Twitter.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – YOHAN CABAYE

Cleary out of favour at current club PSG, managing just nine starts in Ligue 1 this season, former Newcastle star Yohan Cabaye was certainly there for the taking last month.

The France international’s £20million valuation may have been a little pricey for the Lilywhites mid-season, but Mauricio Pochettino’s lack of faith in Spurs’ current central midfielders is obvious, with the Argentine preferring academy duo Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb over the likes of Moussa Dembele, Paulinho and Etienne Capoue, who cost the club a combined £32million.

The 29 year-old, who blends industriousness and a cultured passing game with incredible potency from dead ball situations, is well-proven in the Premier League too, boasting 18 goals and 15 assists in 92 appearances from his two-and-a-half terms on Tyneside.

A number of English sides were linked throughout the window, but Cabaye reportedly rebuffed their interest, instead preferring to fight for his place at Parc de Princes.

FABIAN DELPH

Another midfielder that would have been perfect for the Lilywhites, in my opinion at least, is Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph.

Much like the action-packed Ryan Mason who’s gained such a fan in Mauricio Pochettino, the England international is another gut-busting midfielder, offering athleticism, work-rate and trickery, as demonstrated in the above goal against Chelsea last season. He’s averaged an impressive 1.6 tackles, 2.4 successful dribbles and 1.1 chances created this term.

That makes him an ideal suitor to the high-pressing style Pochettino is trying to implement at White Hart Lane, and with Delph’s contract set to expire at the end of the campaign, it seemed a transfer situation made in heaven. A £7.5million bid was even speculated by some news outlets.

Eventually however, Spurs offered Mason a five-year deal instead before signing League One midfield sensation Dele Alli on deadline day, whilst Delph agreed new terms at Villa Park.

RIGHT WING – MEMPHIS DEPAY

Tottenham have lacked viable options out wide this season and they were resultantly linked to Eredivisie star Memphis Depay during the January window, along with Manchester United.

The 20 year-old has wreaked havoc in the Dutch top flight over the last 18 months, amassing 25 goals and 10 assists in his last 49 league outings for PSV, including a return of 13 goals in 17 appearances this season, and also impressed for the Netherlands at the World Cup, netting twice in the group stages.

Already drawing comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo, in part due to their shared free kick technique, Depay is regarded as one of European football’s hottest prospects. Despite signing a new contract with Eindhoven in the summer, Mirror Football alleged that he could have been available for just £15million.

A bid never materialised but with the explosive winger continuing to improve his game at an incredible rate, we could see the White Hart Lane outfit launch a swoop in the summer.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD – CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

No matter who Tottenham signed this January, Christian Eriksen’s place in the starting Xi would never have come under genuine threat. The Danish international has emerged as a real talisman for the Lilywhites this term, scoring nine goals in 23 appearances – including, rather incredibly, three last-minute winners.

Also averaging an impressive 2.3 chances created per match, the 22 year-old could well be the next Spurs star to leave the club for a ridiculous amount of money.

LEFT WING – ANDRE SCHURRLE

With Chelsea’s interest in Fiorentina star Juan Cuadrado well known, Tottenham were reported as one of the clubs willing to take fellow winger Andre Schurrle off the west London outfit’s hands, along with Wolfsburg and Liverpool.

The German international has struggled for game-time this term, seeing just 433 minutes in the Premier League, but he proved his quality at the World Cup, scoring twice from the bench and providing a tournament-winning assist for Mario Gotze.

His blend of firepower, pace and defensive work-rate in the winger-forward role would have suited the Lilywhites’ style and philosophy perfectly, but the 24 year-old eventually joined Wolfsburg on deadline day in a £22million deal.

Reports since claim Tottenham inquired regarding Schurrle’s services, but were put off by Chelsea’s £30million price-tag for selling to a divisional rival.

STRIKER – MATTIA DESTRO

Despite the recent heroics of Harry Kane, The Metro reported the Lilywhites to be in a race with Arsenal to sign Roma striker Mattia Destro during the final week of the winter window, following revelations that he’d grown tired over a lack of first team football at the Stadio Olympico and was interested in other opportunities abroad.

The 23 year-old boasts a promising return of 23 goals in 52 Serie A appearances for the Italian capital outfit and is regarded as a particularly efficient striker, grabbing five goals this term from just 22 efforts at goal, with a shot accuracy of 67%.

And although Kane has been in top form this term, earning him a new contract two days ago, the rest of Tottenham’s strikeforce have scored just thrice between them – so an injection of firepower for the end of the campaign could have really improved Spurs’ top four chances.

TalkSport alleged a part-exchange for the Italy international involving Vlad Chiriches, but such a deal failed to materialise and Destro instead joined AC Milan on loan.

 


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