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Who Spurs need to sign to bounce back to the top four

It has been a very indifferent season for Tottenham Hotspur this season. After last season’s exploits and a year where the club broke the monopoly, albeit temporarily, of the top four, expectations were high that they were going to achieve the same again.

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It has been a very indifferent season for Tottenham Hotspur this season. After last season’s exploits and a year where the club broke the monopoly, albeit temporarily, of the top four, expectations were high that they were going to achieve the same again. Things, however, didn’t go to plan. Too many dropped points to ‘lesser’ teams at home and on the road have seen Spurs drop to sixth in the league and with a resurgent Liverpool routing Fulham 5-2 last night, it looks as though European football won’t be back at White Hart Lane until late 2012 at the earliest.

While the team are left to lick their wounds and think of what could have been, now is the time to begin the re-building process at Tottenham Hotspur. Streamlining one of the Premier League’s largest squads will not be easy but, when the deadwood is gone, it will allow for the players of similar ilk to Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart to take their places.

 

Goalkeepers

 

It is a shame to be saying this but Heurelho Gomes is becoming indefensible. His save from Charlie Adam’s spot kick on Saturday was one he shouldn’t have made but he performed his Jekyll and Hyde trick once more from the resulting corner, firstly by allowing a simple catch to fall from his grasp thus giving Gary Taylor-Fletcher the impetus to latch on to the resulting drop before bundling the Blackpool man over for the Seasiders second penalty in as many minutes.

 

Fortunately for the Brazilian, his blushes were spared by Jermain Defoe’s 89th minute equaliser but his mistakes haven’t been forgotten throughout the season. Both of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals in the Champions League quarter-final, Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ last week against Chelsea and Didier Drogba’s goal at White Hart Lane at the end of last year are just a few of the mistakes the goalkeeper has made over the course of the season.

 

He makes the saves he shouldn’t be making but continuously makes the most basic of errors that have cost his side points this year. In fact, he is joint top with West Ham’s Rob Green for the most blunders that have resulted in goals from open play this year. While Redknapp has leapt to the defence of Gomes, his patience must be wearing thin for his number one. A top class keeper is needed is Spurs are to challenge for serious honours next season and one of either Maarten Stekelenburg, Allan McGregor and Shay Given would prove more than adequate as a replacement should Gomes be shown the door.

 

As for his back-ups, Carlo Cudicini and Stipe Pletikosa, well the former is more than likely to stay on at Spurs as a number two for at least another year until a young England hopeful will take his spot on the bench while the latter has failed to challenge for the number one spot and, after making only two appearances all season in the first team, admitted his move to Spurs was a mistake.

 

Defenders

 

Starting with the full-backs, fans can expect to see Alan Hutton shipped out in the summer. Despite showing a glimpse of what he can do, the former Rangers man has failed to make the right back spot his own often playing second fiddle to the less than spectacular Vedran Corluka. With Younes Kaboul able to cover in the position with the Kyle’s, Walker and Naughton, both showcasing their capabilities and the two of them expected back at White Hart Lane ready for the new season, you can expect Hutton to be made available for transfer.

 

As for the left back scenario, fans have often criticised Benoit Assou-Ekotto and his ability to play the position. However, the Cameroonian international has been one of our best performances this season while the 3-3 draw at home to Arsenal has drawn plaudits from fans and pundits alike. Yet, with BAE currently sidelined with a hamstring problem and Bale missing the remaining three games with an ankle injury, the lack of depth in that position has been made blisteringly aware to everyone. Youngster Danny Rose did well to step into left back when asked on Saturday but isn’t a long term solution. Expect either of the Kyle’s to challenge BAE for a starting spot next season.

 

In the central of defence, question marks have been raised about the long term futures of both Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate. The former has missed a substantial chunk of the season after groin surgery while the latter has played a total of thirty-minutes of first team football in the previous fourteen months. With Woodgate’s contract set to expire in the coming weeks, it would be difficult to Redknapp to justify extending his deal beyond June unless he is on a pay-as-you-play deal.

 

However, with the squad looking to be thinned out and more money made available for new players, the easiest option would be for both to have their contracts cancelled. It is a massive shame for both players as, injury free could well have been two of England’s top defenders and when both are available for selection, have formed a formidable partnership in the Spurs defence. Yet while Woodgate maybe released from the club, King will undoubtedly be offered a role on the coaching side of things.

 

With that aside, Spurs still have four centre-backs to compete for the two starting spots. Michael Dawson, William Gallas, Kaboul and Sebastien Bassong all have the ability to start for Spurs and help them in their quest for another top four finish. However, with Gallas approaching his mid-thirties and Bassong eager to move for first team football, it may be the case that Redknapp will be in the market for another centre back. Roma’s Philippe Mexes is out of contract at the end of the season and could well be persuaded that his future lies in England’s capital.

 

Spurs have also been linked with a host of defenders from the Premiership with Richard Dunne and Gary Cahill two names mentioned as possible signings for the club. Blackburn Rovers’ Phil Jones is a prospect that Redknapp may well want to add to his ranks and the potential for him to succeed with a host of top clubs linked with the youngster and while he may not be rushed into first-team football with Gallas and Dawson the starting pairing, Jones, like Cahill, could be a player that lines up next to Dawson in the future.

 

Midfielders

 

When it comes to the wide men, the natural starters would be Bale and Aaron Lennon. Both have the ability to cause full-backs problems and with them on the pitch, can stretch defences. While Bale has been courted by some of Europe’s elite, he has affirmed his commitment to Spurs and wants to remain with the club despite the lack of Champions League football. As for Lennon, reports have suggested that Redknapp would be happen to get rid should the opportunity presents itself. A lack of playing time, prior to Bale’s season ending injury, fuelled rumours that Redknapp had lost patience with the England winger, reportedly quoted that he failed to listen to orders and hasn’t improved as much as Redknapp would have liked.

 

However, Redknapp would be foolish to get rid of Lennon. He still has room for improvement and would likely come back to haunt Spurs should he be sold to a rival. In terms of back-up, the likes of Rose, Andros Townsend and Stephen Pienaar are more than adequate replacements should either, or both, become injured.

 

However, it is a shame that one man will miss out and is likely to be sold in the summer; Niko Kranjcar. Signed from Portsmouth eighteen months ago, the Croat has been a consistent performer in the Spurs shirt and was part of the team that won the club their initial top four spot. Scoring the winning goals against Bolton and Sunderland this season has done little to persuade Redknapp that he should be part of the starting XI and the signing of Pienaar in January would have done little to persuade Kranjcar that his future lies with Tottenham.

 

Fans can expect a Kranjcar exit this summer and he is likely to be joined by Giovani Dos Santos and David Bentley in bidding farewell to White Hart Lane. The Mexican arrived from Barcelona hyped as the new Ronaldinho yet failed to make an impact in a Spurs shirt, making ten appearances and spending more time out on loan to Ipswich, Galatasaray and Racing Santander then in and around the first team.

 

Like Dos Santos, Bentley has had a torrid time in a Spurs shirt, often missing out in the starting XI to Lennon. A loan spell at Birmingham has seen him return to first team football but his chances of the same at White Hart Lane may well be slim at best.

 

Moving into the centre of the pitch, Tottenham pack an abundance of talent with the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Luka Modric, Rafael Van der Vaart, Sandro, Wilson Palacios and Jermaine Jenas all vying for a starting spot in the centre of the park. However, with Sandro, Modric, Van der Vaart and Huddlestone the four main contenders, it remains to be seen whether Palacios and Jenas will remain at Spurs in the future. Both have had bit-part roles to play during the season and at least one of them is likely to be sold in the summer especially with Jake Livermore, Dean Parrett and John Bostock all set to re-join the first team in the summer and, should West Ham be relegated, Scott Parker would look likely to join up with the squad at Chigwell in time for the new season.

 

Another loanee, Jamie O’Hara, is also set to move on once the transfer window re-opens again with first team football his priority having spent a majority of the past two seasons on loan with Portsmouth and Wolves respectively after failing to hold down a starting spot with Spurs.

 

Strikers

 

Up top, Spurs have struggled for goals on a regular basis this season. With thirty-two goals between Roman Pavlyuchenko, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane, fans can expect a huge overhaul up front. Keane is definitely set to leave the club having found playing time hard to come by at Tottenham while two of either Defoe, Crouch or Pavlyuchenko will most likely be shipped out.

 

With Redknapp opting for a 4-4-1-1 formation, a striker that can successfully play the role of lone striker is a must. It has been made no secret that Daniel Levy placed bids for five Spanish based forwards in January with none wanting to join up with Redknapp and co. at White Hart Lane.

 

The club have been linked with Porto duo Falcao and Hulk, Athletic Bilbao target man Fernando Llorente, Espanyol’s Pablo Osvaldo, a return for former striker Dimitar Berbatov currently of Manchester United and even a move for Chelsea’s Didier Drogba. Any of the above would be an improvement on the current crop of strikers at White Hart lane especially if Van der Vaart is utilised as the man in the hole behind him.

This is where the biggest changes will occur in the current first team especially with top four the aim for next season. A few minor changes elsewhere and the club are ready to re-break the top four and take back the position that Manchester City won off them last night.

In – Mexes, Stekelenburg, Parker, Falcao, Hulk, Loach, Cahill

Out – Gomes, King, Woodgate, Jenas, Palacios, Keane, O’Hara, Hutton, Kranjcar, Dos Santos, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bentley

 

 

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European giants keen on landing Mauricio Pochettino as permanent manager

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Bayern Munich make Mauricio Pochettino priority for the summer

Mauricio Pochettino is Bayern Munich’s top target for a permanent manager, according to The Athletic (h/t Sun).

The Bavarians sacked Niko Kovac recently and have placed Hansi Flick as their caretaker until the end of the season.

The report claims that Flick could be replaced by Pochettino but only if the Argentine leaves Tottenham.

Mauricio Pochettino and Niko Kovac
Niko Kovac (L) and Mauricio Pochettino during a pre-season game (Image credit: Getty)

Spurs have been inconsistent this season and managed to get only a point against Sheffield United in their previous clash.

Tottenham lie 14th in the Premier League and haven’t won any of their last five games in the competition too.

We are already 11 points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. Spurs are also a mammoth 20 points behind league leaders Liverpool after 12 games of the season.

Thomas Tuchel and Arsene Wenger were also linked with the job, however, the Frenchman was only seen as a caretaker until the end of the season (h/t Sun).

Pochettino has to turn things around fast

Tottenham should have pushed on from the Champions League final appearance from the previous season, but we just haven’t been able to do much.

Giovani Lo Celso
Giovani Lo Celso with Mauricio Pochettino (L) against Red Star Belgrade (Image credit: Getty)

Our team looks a little flat despite several summer signings and a few players are out of a contract at the end of the season. Pochettino has to turn things around quickly as we are in danger of missing out on the Champions League too.

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The Argentine has the capability to get our campaign back on track, but time is running out for us.

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Tottenham likely to recall 18-year-old Championship starlet in January

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Tottenham likely to recall Jack Clarke from Leeds United

Tottenham are likely to recall Jack Clarke unless his fortunes change at Leeds United (h/t Football.london).

The 18-year-old rejoined Leeds after signing for Spurs in the summer but has struggled for regular minutes under Marcelo Bielsa.

Clarke has featured in just two Carabao Cup games this season and hasn’t played in the Championship.

jack Clarke
Jack Clarke has struggled for first-team action at Leeds (Image credit: Getty)

The English winger has made it to the matchday squad in recent games but is yet to play in the league. Clarke impressed for Bielsa last season as Leeds qualified for the playoffs.

Football.london reports that Spurs have an option in Clarke’s loan deal and could recall him in January if he doesn’t get more playing time. That seems to be the most likely outcome unless Leeds suffer injury problems and Clarke gets regular minutes between now and January (h/t Football.london).

Clarke needs to play regularly

The 18-year-old has featured for England’ youth teams this season and needs to play first-team games.

Jack Clarke
Jack Clarke signs for Tottenham (Image credit: Tottenham Twitter)

A lack of minutes will stagnate his growth and it would be better for him to return to Tottenham in January. We can then decide to send him out on loan to another club as long as he is assured of some game time.

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Spurs can also keep him at the club and give him a run in our first-team should he impress Mauricio Pochettino.

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Tottenham interested in two youngsters plying their trade in Spain and Italy respectively

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Tottenham eyeing Celta Vigo winger Brais Mendez and Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrino

Tottenham are interested in Celta Vigo’s 22-year-old winger Brais Mendez (h/t Guardian). The Spaniard has featured in 13 La Liga games for Celta Vigo this season but has no goals or assists.

Mendez had a better season last time around as he racked up 6 goals and 7 assists from 31 La Liga games.

The youngster has also played for the senior Spanish national team and scored the winner on his debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Brais Mendez
Brais Mendez hasn’t scored or assisted a goal for Celta Vigo this season (Image credit: Getty)

Mendez has featured in several youth Spanish teams and started his career with Sardoma. He then moved to Santa Marina and Villarreal before landing up at Vigo. The 22-year-old mostly plays on the right of the attack but can also take up the role of a midfielder.

Lorenzo Pellegrini also an option for Spurs

The Guardian adds that Spurs are also keeping an eye on Lorenzo Pellegrini of AS Roma. The 23-year-old has featured for the Italian senior side this season and has done well there.

Pellegrini plays mostly on the left but can also do a job in the midfield. The 23-year-old has four assists from six Serie A games, and it will be interesting to see if we move for either player in the coming months.

Lorenzo Pellegrini
Lorenzo Pellegrini is a regular for the Italy national team (Image credit: Getty)

Tottenham have several players in the final months of their contracts and we could lose them for nothing at the end of the campaign.

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Mendez and Pellegrini have a lot of potential and we could do with some more fresh faces joining us.

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Tottenham keen on 26-year-old star to replace Christian Eriksen

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Tottenham see Hakim Ziyech as Christian Eriksen’s replacement

Tottenham want to sign Ajax star Hakim Ziyech as Christian Eriksen’s replacement, according to the Express.

Ziyech helped Ajax reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. Tottenham also got a close look at the player during the semi-final as we beat them.

The 26-year-old Morocco international has been in decent form too. Ziyech has 6 goals and 11 assists in all competitions for Ajax and impressed in the 4-4 draw against Chelsea.

Hakim Ziyech
Hakim Ziyech has been excellent for Ajax (Image credit: Getty)

The Moroccan bagged two assists in that Champions League game and has been involved in six goals in his past four outings.

Eriksen missing in action

Eriksen, for his part, hasn’t been as prolific as Ziyech this season. The Dane is out of a contract at the end of the campaign and only has two goals to his name in all competitions.

The report claims that Eriksen could leave in January or at the end of the season, and Spurs have identified his successor. Eriksen didn’t even come off the bench in our 1-1 draw against Sheffield United at the weekend.

Christian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen after his miss against Colchester in the Carabao Cup (Image credit: Getty)

The former Ajax man isn’t the only one who hasn’t done well this season, but we could do with more creativity in the final third. Ziyech can play in several positions and has been in good form for Ajax over the past few years.

The Moroccan was involved in 29 league goals last season and 24 goals in the season prior to that.

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Ziyech is capable of playing for most top teams in the world, and it will be interesting to see if we make a serious move for him soon.

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