When it comes to transfer windows I always tend to look at the bigger squad picture before anything else as we have to abide by the rules and that means sticking to the 25 man rule. Put very simply we cannot have more than 25 players listed – excluding under 21s – so before we can buy we normally have to sell.
One good piece of news in this respect is that we actually only registered 24 players at the beginning of the season and so far we have rid ourselves of Simon Dawkins, probably the longest serving player of any club never to have made a full first team appearance. He has played over 80 times whilst on loan at places like San Jose Earthquakes and more recently at Derby County and has now – at long last – been given a permanent move.
And with Jonathon Obika being loaned out to Brighton, yet another space comes free. This despite him being one of the recruits brought up under the watchful eye of Tim Sherwood so surely if he were one for the future he would be given his chance to shine for us – obviously not.
Next out will be Jermaine Defoe – a player who polarises opinion. He has been a great servant of the team over two separate terms, scoring 142 times for us and is now our all time leading scorer in Europe. His electric pace and powerful shooting have been used to great effect over the years but his time on the pitch has been limited to rare cup outings this season, yet he has still managed to find the back of the net nine times. A move to Toronto has been agreed but he will remain with us until the end of February so this will not free up a space in the squad – the list has to be confirmed at the end of January.
Erik Lamela could be given the chance to reignite his career with a loan move back to Italy for the rest of the season but as he was not in the original squad due to his age, again this will not free up any space. Would a return to Italy – and in particular Juventus – be a benefit to Erik. It is widely claimed that he has been unable to settle in London partly because of the language problem but he speaks a version of Spanish or Portuguese and there are enough of those in our squad to assist him.
If he does go back – even for five months – I would hope that he is instructed to learn English and to watch as many EPL tapes as we can provide him with so he can at least adapt mentally to the new environment. He does not have the electric pace of a Bale but he does have far more ball skill and at 21 is a huge prospect for the future. Unless we can instantly recoup all the money spent on him and more I would not want to se him leave on a permanent deal.
So is there anyone else who we could see depart or, like Sandro last year, left out of the squad because of injury?
The only person I can see going is Heurelho Gomes, our long suffering and much maligned Brazilian goalkeeper, especially as his contract is due for renewal at the end of the season and he could leave for free at that time – maybe now we could do a deal and recoup a little bit of money.
And unless Younes Kaboul shows that he is fully recovered very quickly maybe leaving him to regain full strength and fitness during the remainder of the season will give him the chance to come back next year.
So, we have at least three spaces definitely available, possibly as many as four or five, so who to fill them?
With Defoe leaving we definitely need a striker. If we are to continue playing two up front we almost certainly need two. Do we opt for experienced campaigners or choose to go down the younger is best route.
Two such experienced individuals come in the shape of 30 year olds currently plying their trade at Juventus – Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella – who are both finding it hard to get first team football in Serie A following the arrivals of Carlos Tevez and Fernado Llorente. Both have an eye for goal as last season Quagliarella scored 13 goals in 35 games while Vucinic (who can also play behind the main striker) has scored 25 goals in 86 appearances. Not prolific but somewhat better than our other pairing. More importantly perhaps they’re also affordable, as either or both could come on loan as part of any deal taking Lamella the other way, even if it is only for five months.
On the younger side there is Alvaro Morata who was touted as a makeweight in the Gareth Bale to Madrid deal and now finds himself with no game time whatsoever, but again he would probably only be available on loan. Perhaps the only player who might be able to sign for us permanently and if I were perfectly honest is the only one that fits the bill exactly is another Belgian international – Christian Benteke – whose career has stalled recently after such an excellent first season at Aston Villa. We were apparently interested in him in the summer but nothing came of it – would now be a good time to renew our intent?
Defensively would we need cover if Gomes left? Probably not as both Lloris and Friedel are more than capable and in Jordan Archer we have a fine young keeper who will in a year or two step up to become our automatic no 2 in that position.
If Kaboul´s ongoing injury is considered too much of a liability and he is left out of the squad we would need a centre back, and one with experience of Premiership football. Whilst I have my concerns as to whether Joleon Lescott would be the perfect choice there are a couple of things in his favour. He is big, he is strong and good in the air, and he has a winning mentality. That he is not getting game time as Citeh should not be a concern, he can still be good enough to play for England at this year´s World Cup – could he be good enough for us for five months?
And then we come to the difficult question. Do we get a new left back as quite obviously without cover for Danny Rose we are going to suffer. Naughton and Fryers have proven that they are not up to the task and even Rose has shown weaknesses, the strain of playing there probably contributed to Vertonghen´s lay-off, so I would suggest that we must go into the market place and get ourselves someone – whether it is again only on loan and here again a visit to Real Madrid and a five month deal for Fabio Coentrao might prove worthwhile, or would we consider making an audacious permanent bid for someone like Luke Shaw. He is certainly someone who is very capable and also very young. He could even turn into another Gareth Bale – now there´s a thought.
One thing is for certain – whoever we do get in – and we almost certainly will no matter what the hierachy keep saying, they will be in for the ride of their lives. That is always the way whether you work for Spurs, play for Spurs or just support Spurs – it is always a rollercoaster ride, as many downs as there are ups.
Of course, all this could be nothing more than a pipedream but then again, pigs have been known to fly !!!