With players who cannot even be considered as on the fringes – Dawkins, Obika and Coulthurst – already having left the club this month and Defoe – one who could still play an important part in the next six weeks – about to depart, we are also apparently about to let go of another whole host of players.
Whether this is pure speculation, rumour or just media hype is open to question, but what does bother me is the total lack of any realistic speculation, rumour or media hype about who might come in as replacements.
Sherwood has gone on record as saying that no new signings will be made – to be fair AVB and others before him have said exactly the same thing every January – so nothing can be read into that.
But the reports that Lamela wants to return to Italy continue to persist – again Sherwood has made it clear that this will not happen – but I can see merit in a loan swap, which I will deal with later.
Further reports now link Holtby with a return to Schalke – again on loan – while Capoue is being chased by Napoli and any number of clubs are showing interest in both Sandro and Paulinho. Dembele has been linked with a move back to Fulham, Chadli was angling for a loan and all this does not even include the usual merry-go-round we see when the name Adebayor is mentioned.
If we were to get rid of any or, worse still, the vast majority of these players and do nothing to get new players in, we will be left with a central midfield of Bentaleb and Eriksen, wide players in Lennon, Townsend, and Siggy with only Soldado up front – and no cover in case of injuries.
We have seen how sparse our squad is at the back when one or two key players get injured – Vertonghen and Kaboul in particular – so we do need to be careful that we do not let too many depart.
So is it all media hype and speculation or is there any truth in any of the rumours?
In Lamela´s case I can see some sense in allowing him to return to Italy. He is still young and impressionable, has yet to settle in London and cannot speak the language. This and a couple of minor niggles have meant he hasn´t had the chance to prove what he is fully capable of but I am sure we have all seen enough to suggest that he has what it takes in terms of skill – whether he has the right attitude and character is yet to be displayed.
My opinion would be to let him return on loan to somewhere like Juventus where the pressure will be high but different, and in return we can get one of their aging strikers – someone like Vucinic until the end of the season. A proven goalscorer for a potential brilliant young prospect.
Holtby is another who has shown that he could be a very worthwhile long term acquisition. He has a good temperament, he is very active and aggressive in the right way, he possesses an eye for a pass and a shot, but needs to work on his defending if he is to force his way into our central midfield which is where I suggest his future lies.
Would a return to Schalke, still in the Champions League and sitting well up in the Bundesliga be of use? To him perhaps as he undoubtedly has dreams of being in the German squad for Brazil, he won´t get it sitting on the bench at the Lane.
Would we get anyone on loan in return – highly unlikely although wouldn´t it be great if we could somehow persuade Draxler to come to us instead of heading elsehwere in North London – so I do not see this happening.
Capoue is a strange one as there are rumours emanating of a rift over unprofessional behaviour, which may be unfair given his circumstances. He came to us as one of seven new players – perhaps the one with the least expectations – and started to show what he was capable of, only to get an unfortunate injury. On his return he was forced into playing in a makeshift back four – not his natural position – and since then has been marginalised.
At the moment he probably will be little more than the understudy to Sandro, but he has shown that he is susceptible to injury and we do need a midfield enforcer. The rumours about Sandro and Paulinho can – as far as I am concerned – stay as column inches in the tabloids. There is no way either of these two should be permitted to leave under any circumstances. Both will – injuries apart – be in the Brazilian squad in a few months and could even make the team in the final – they are that good. Why should we even contemplate letting either leave?
The recent reports about Dembele are somewhat puzzling as he has been one of our almost ever present players – only not playing when injured. To suggest that he would get more game time at Fulham is simply foolhardy.
Chadli had apparently requested a loan move to ensure he played and could get into the Belgian team but has in the past few days retracted that statement.
As for Adebayor, a few short weeks ago everyone was simply praying for him to play, attract attention and be sold, but now that he has scored a couple of goals and put in a couple of half decent performances every mediocre team on the planet wants him. Could he have turned the corner and show us what he really is capable of, that he is the player to lead the line, to take us to the next level – or do we take the money and run. I am still not convinced that he is the long term answer.
But in all of this even if one or two players are released – either permanently or on loan – we simply must replace them. If we don´t – we will indeed be denuding ourselves, and deluding ourselves if we think we can survive the rest of the season without doing so.
Two weeks left in this transfer window and a lot of work to be done.