How Should Tottenham go about Business in the Transfer Market?

Filed under Editor's Picks, Premier League

As we officially move into the 2nd half of 2015, 1st July also signals the start of the 2015-16 footballing season. While squads will commence training in preparation for 10 months of high-octane football, just as much focus will be devoted to the transfer window, with clubs looking to strengthen, through both imports and exports. For Tottenham Hotspur, two new faces will be arriving at the club’s Enfield Training Centre: Kieran Trippier, and Kevin Wimmer, whilst Brazilian Paulinho has already left the club. Fans will be hoping that there will be more deals to follow in the coming two months, and here we look at where they need to strengthen.

Kieran Trippier has made the move from Burnley to Tottenham

Kieran Trippier has made the move from Burnley to Tottenham

The first aspect to scrutinise is the mission of the club in this summer’s window. Manager Mauricio Pochettino was praised last season for integrating younger fresher faces into his starting eleven, and has continued to place his trust in youth, with the acquisitions of Wimmer and Trippier, aged 22, and 24 respectively. Although the trust he has placed in the future is admirable, I can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive about this strategy. The vibrant energy and pressing display by the likes of Bentaleb, Mason, Dier, Rose, and Kane was definitely a factor in the club’s defeats of bitter rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. However, the lack of experience was  telling and eventually cost them the top four. Cast your mind back to March, and Tottenham were in a solid position. Three points off from 4th place Manchester United, and a trip to Old Trafford was the perfect opportunity to propel themselves into the Champions League places. They ended up getting blasted 3-0, and put in a performance bereft of any intensity, passion, and desire. But more importantly, the manner in which they collapsed was shocking: there was no discipline, or organisation, no leader to drive them through what was a torrid afternoon in Manchester. Looking back at last season, the three games that I felt that they had to do well in were as follows: West Ham at home, the aforementioned United away match, and Burnley away. Those were big matches that given the context of the rest of the league, could’ve helped them to rise to where they wanted to be. They drew the matches against West Ham and Burnley, putting in performances in which they simply choked. Inexperience showed throughout the cumulative 180 minutes, and the spark that was so desperately needed was missing at the most vital of times.

Spurs were blown away at Old Trafford last season

Spurs were blown away at Old Trafford last season

With that being said, it is essential for them to buy ready-made players, ones who have experience at the top-level, and can assert their leadership and personality on the entire team. People talk about Liverpool needing to do this, but Tottenham need that type of player just as much. My favourite Tottenham team of the past would have to be 11-12 group, who finished fourth, but cruelly missed out on a Champions League place due to Chelsea winning the competition. That team had that leadership and experience running down the spine of the team, with the likes of Friedel, King, Parker, Van der Vaart, Adebayor, and Saha. The current crop is chock full of young hungry players, but lacking the know-how and guidance when it comes to navigating tough circumstances.

It’s now time to start identifying some targets, beginning with defence. Spurs have been heavily linked in the past few weeks with Atletico Madrid defender Toby Alderweireld, who spent the 14-15 season on loan at Southampton. The Belgian international would fit the bill wonderfully, having not only enjoyed a great season with the Saints last season, but also due to his experience playing for both Madrid and Ajax in the Champions League. Alderweireld has made just over 40 appearances in both the Europa League and the Champions League, making a short cameo in the Champions League final of last year. Tottenham would do well to sign a seasoned player such as the Atletico Madrid man, who was also involved in one of the tightest title races La Liga has seen during the 2013-14 season. Should the move come to fruition, fans will be hoping that this Belgian will be able to bring the best out of another Belgian: Jan Vertonghen, who hasn’t been able to recapture the scintillating form he displayed during his first season at the club. The two are used to each others’ styles, having played together both in the national team, as well as at Ajax, and wouldn’t need to much time to gel as a partnership.

Tottenham have been linked with Toby Alderweireld

Tottenham have been linked with Toby Alderweireld

Moving into midfield now, perhaps where the hardest decisions must be made. Most fans will say that a proper, defensive midfielder should be the main target, and whilst I see their point, I feel that a top class playmaker should be number one on the list of requirements. I’ve mentioned before how Tottenham sorely lack creativity outside of Christian Eriksen, and the man who I’d like to see arriving at N17 is Yohan Cabaye. He’s a player who has struggled for game time at PSG, but has enjoyed success in the Premier League at Newcastle United. Geordies have fond memories of the Frenchman, who was one of the few shining lights of their dismal 12-13 season, and was at the heart of the North East club’s bright form during the start of the 2013-14 season. His departure in January of 2014 saw the club endure a torrid run of 10 defeats from their last 14 matches. Cabaye during his time at Newcastle performed a role similar to what Luka Modric did at Tottenham. Both played a little deeper in midfield, and had a brilliant passing range, chipping in with goals every so often. Tottenham were at their creative best when they had Modric pulling the strings from a deep lying midfield position, and Rafael Van der Vaart wreacking havoc behind the main striker. If Spurs can recreate that axis with Cabaye and Christian Eriksen, they will no doubt be a more potent attacking force.

Cabaye was a revelation for Newcastle, and PSG are willing to listen to offers for the player

Cabaye was a revelation for Newcastle, and PSG are willing to listen to offers for the player

One of the recent criticisms of Tottenham is the lack of pace in the team. Spurs once had one of the speediest teams with the likes of Lennon, Bale, Walker, and Rose on the wings, but speed has now taken a backseat to technique and skill. Chadli and Lamela are currently the first choice. options of the flanks, and while Chadli has the goals, and Lamela has the flair, the play can become too congested when both of them come inside, as they so often do. Andros Townsend is a pacy player, but plays on the right more often than not, meaning he has to cut in centrally to get on his preferred left foot. Yehven Konoplyanka has been touted on many occasions since he faced off against Tottenham in the Europa League in 2014, but for me Xherdan Shaqiri is the man they should be targeting. With great pace, the Swiss international has the ability to beat his full back, get to the bye line, and swing crosses in for the striker. A creative threat as well (he created an average of 3.5 chances per game at Inter) , Shaqiri would be able to provide much-needed service to Harry Kane (or someone else, who knows?) up front, who at times looked isolated. Shaqiri has played at the highest level with Bayern Munich, and with Inter willing to consider their options, a bid for Shaqiri would be smart.

Shaqiri has enjoyed success at big clubs such as Bayern Munich and Inter Milann

Shaqiri has enjoyed success at big clubs such as Bayern Munich and Inter Milann

Although Tottenham were the only team to have three players get into double digits for goals scored in the Premier League last season, there is no doubt that they need more firepower in front of goals. Their reliance on Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen (and to a lesser extent Nacer Chadli)  led to a sub par of tally of just 58 goals. Their main target in this area of the pitch has been Christian Benteke, however, the Aston Villa man has stated that he wouldn’t move to the North London club, even if a deal was agreed. Not the news fans would like to hear, but the calibre of player they’ve identified is encouraging. Benteke is a very complete centre forward, strong and quick, capable of scoring goals, holding up player, and creating chances for others. The problem for Tottenham, as well as clubs like Tottenham, is that these players are so hard to find nowadays, that whenever they are found, they are immediately snapped up by the bigger clubs. This is where the ability of Paul Mitchell is needed. The scout, whisked away from Southampton by Spurs, was brought in for his well renowned analytical scouting set-up, and was responsible for the acquisition of Graziano Pelle, a player who hit the ground running and became a fan favourite. Even a deal similar to the 2 million pound deal done by Swansea to buy Michu wouldn’t go amiss. Spurs are fortunate that they have a versatile centre forward in Harry Kane who didn’t cost them a penny, but make no mistake about it, they need more.

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About Nikhil Agarwal

I am an avid football fan, and have been following the game for close to 10 years. Although I try to keep track of football around the world, the league that is closest to my heart is definitely the Barclays Premier League. For more pieces check out my blog. http://nikhil111199.blogspot.sg

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