Another week draws to a close at White Hart Lane with Luka Modric still very much a Spurs player. The Daily Mail may claim that there was a tantrum and showdown talks, but the message from Daniel Levy is very clear, there will be no sale.
Tottenham have however been busy trying to remove what some would refer to as “dead wood,” but I prefer to call them “not quite good enough to match our aspirations.”
Top of this list is Jermain Defoe, who was once a right-footed assassin but now is just a player out of his depth and not in the same class as his teammates. When Tottenham were a team who could only dream of Champions League football, Defoe was an effective striker, who given space and time was able to put many teams to the sword, but then something changed.
In the 2010/2011 season Spurs achieved notoriety for fast and attacking football with Modric, Rafa van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon traumatising defences, however, for Spurs fans this was just a big propaganda campaign. The supporters who watched their team, week in week out, could all see that Tottenham’s expansive football did not exist. Time after time against well organised teams attacks would break down as Spurs’ creative players were denied space. They were in desperate need of a striker who could create a goal from nothing.
Spurs unfortunately never had such a striker. Against Wigan, Blackpool and West Ham home and away, Spurs’ inability to score cost them a Champions League place and sparked the Modric fanfare. The greatest teams of the last few years have all possessed a striker who could score a goal from nowhere Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Thierry Henry, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba could open up the match for the quick and skill full players to exploit. Cristiano Ronaldo one of the best players to have appeared in the Premier League, regularly destroyed teams in the final 25 minutes as the opposition had no choice but to try and pull a goal back.
Jermaine Defoe, who has constantly failed to perform on the international scene, is clearly a striker of limitations. At 28 his little spark of pace has vanished, he lacks physical presence, individual skill and he is too one dimensional. Defoe may still possess an incredible right foot shot, but all too rare is he given the opportunity to use it. Selling Defoe and retrieving a large part of the sum that was reinvested in him in 2009 would be an excellent move for Tottenham all round.
Selling Defoe rather than Peter Crouch may upset some Spurs fans, but Crouch offers far more. Spurs’ tall striker may not score many goals, but he has a history of scoring the odd important one: England v Trinand & Tobago at the World Cup 2006, against Man City in the “Champions League Play off 2010” and away to AC Milan. Crouch is also a positive member of the squad and content to play whenever Harry Redknapp feels it suits the team, also at the age of 30 Crouch would not command a transfer fee as high as Defoe.
Tottenham must start building a squad with players who can match the fans aspirations. For once Spurs’ optimism is honest and not just a fools hope. We have true class players in Modric, Bale, Michael Dawson and van der Vaart. Supporting them is a cast of bright prospects such as Kyle Walker, Sandro, Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and the on loan Steven Caulker. Tottenham must move quickly to ship out the players who can no longer help the team progress.
One player who despite achieving a cult following at White Hart Lane, still splits opinions, the hot and cold Russian, Roman Pavlyuchenko. This international striker can score wonder goals, Bolton and Young Boys away are prime examples but should he remain at the club? My feeling is that despite how much I enjoy his wonder goals, he typifies everything the new Tottenham shouldn’t be, brilliant one week rubbish the next. If a oil rich Russian club decides to spend over 10 million, Levy should bite their hands off.
There is, however, one more striker at Spurs whose fall from grace has been so rapid that the biggest cheer he has received in 18 months was when he missed an open goal which helped relegate West Ham. Robbie Keane, Ireland’s record goal scorer and a once £20 million player needs to be sold.
Spurs must make sure that the money received from selling squad players is used wisely. With the manager set to leave in 2012 and top players been courted by the worlds richest clubs, the future of Tottenham will be in the 25 man squad that Levy and Redknapp assemble. If they fail to finish in the top 4 then the club will have no choice but to sell and start from scratch.
TOTTENHAM TRANSFER RUMOURS:
My favourite rumours of the week: Alan Hutton to Villa for £5 Million. Giuseppe Rossi to Spurs, getting £10 Million for Niko Krancjar.
My least favourite: Jay Boothyrod to Spurs, Modric to anywhere.
You can follow me on twitter @arlombardi