As we get ever closer to the end of the January transfer window, it is fair to say that it has been an uneventful window thus far for Tottenham Hotspur. Much to the dismay of the media, there really has been precious little to shout about in terms of first-team player movements, despite rumours circulating all month that suggest quite the opposite. Here is a short collection of my thoughts going into the final week of the window.
Anybody that has been following me on Twitter recently will know my opinions on potential signings this month. I strongly believe we need a striker to come in in this window, and feel that it could be the difference between a fourth placed finish, and another disappointing season. If one considers that Jermain Defoe is set to jet off to the bright lights of Toronto in the near future, it is abundantly clear that a forward needs to arrive this month in my opinion. Whilst Harry Kane has looked right at home during his two Premier League appearances this season, I still think we need another experienced body in the squad who can challenge Adebayor and Soldado for a starting berth in the team, and look to fire us into the top four.
Franco Baldini is under a lot of pressure to make a good signing here. Despite the excessive criticism in the media of our seven signings, it cannot be denied that the two most expensive signings of the summer have failed to make the expected impact, and this reflects very badly on Baldini. A shrewd signing in this window wouldn’t do the Italian’s reputation any harm at all. Sadly, I do not think that this player will come from Serie A. The likes of Goran Pandev, Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella have been touted for potential arrivals this January, but I think the club have to be looking a little closer to home, and try and sign players who know the Premier and would take no time to adapt to the Premier League in this window. The fact that players such as Gaston Ramirez, Dani Osvaldo, Erik Lamela and Emanuele Giaccherini have all arrived from Italy in the past couple of years with big reputations, and have all struggled to make a massive impact in English football is very telling. If we are serious about finishing in the top four this season, we cannot afford a dud signing; we need somebody who knows the Premier League well and is ready to make an instantaneous impact.
Steven Fletcher and Demba Ba are players who I rate extremely highly, and I would love to see either arrive. I think Fletcher would be a lot more attainable as a target, and he is a player who I genuinely think could become a great signing for us. In relative terms, he has been prolific for every club he has played for thus far in his career, and deserves a shot at a top-third Premier League team as he moves to peak age at around 27-years-old. I maybe in a bit of a minority here, but I think he is a top player. Dimitar Berbatov has also been touted for a £1.5m return recently, and he is another player I would be happy with. Whilst his attitude is questionable, he still has tremendous talent and the ability to score consistently at Premier League level. He would be a great signing.
Erik Lamela, Lewis Holtby and Etienne Capoue have been players most heavily linked with exits in recent weeks, and I expect at least one to have left by the end of the month. Etienne Capoue is perhaps the most likely player to be shown the door, and like the majority of Spurs fans, I am baffled as to why we are looking to sell a player who has only been at the club for a matter of months. Ever since his debut at Selhurst Park on the opening day, I have thought Capoue is a quality player. He has a good passing range, and can also win the ball astutely and disrupt the opposition in the middle of the park. Granted, he is a long way off Sandro in terms of quality, but as a backup, he is a very good option. A puzzling sale to say the very least. That being said, I have been impressed with Nabil Bentaleb so far this season, and still think Tom Carroll can become a true star. If I had to take a positive from the potential sale of Capoue, it would be that these two players would move higher up the pecking order you would imagine.
If rumours are to be believed, Lewis Holtby could end up at Stoke this month, after Daniel Levy blocked a transfer to Schalke. This is a move that I can understand a little more, and I think Lewis is a little more dispensable than Capoue. I say this only because of Sherwood’s preference to deploy two strikers, not because I don’t think Holtby is a good player. Even when Tim Sherwood switched to one up front against Swansea, Holtby was still an unused substitute. Whilst Christian Eriksen is thriving under Tim Sherwood’s leadership and Gylfi Sigurdsson has played on the left hand side of midfield, and even as a deep-lying playmaker for Spurs this season, I think Holtby’s lack of adaptability will inevitably mean he will find starts hard to come by. It does pain me to type this though; not for many years have I come across a player with an attitude as good as Holtby’s. If every player worked as hard on the field as Holtby does, we would win the treble; his work rate is simply remarkable. I wish Lewis the very best of luck wherever he ends up.
Finally, we come to Erik Lamela. Erik, who hasn’t been helped by the emergence of Andros Townsend earlier in the season and the recent form of Aaron Lennon, has found Premier League minutes hard to come by, and still hasn’t started a home league game this season. I feel like I am very much in the minority of Spurs fans who think that a loan back to Serie A would be a good option for Erik Lamela, and for Spurs as well. At this stage, I honestly think we need to keep Erik and his agent happy for the time being, and then look to re-group in the summer. We cannot afford to lose such a prize young asset of the club, so as an act of appeasement, he should be allowed to leave on loan in this window. Regular minutes will ensure he reaches Argentina’s World Cup squad, and he can get back to the training pitch after that and use pre-season to really look to integrate into the squad and start next season with a clean slate. If Lamela does end up staying at the club this season I believe he has something still to offer us. He played his best football under Zydnek Zeman last season in Rome, a manager who believed in an ultra-attacking philosophy at all times. Tim Sherwood has ditched AVB’s tactical approach to setting up a football team, and has told his players to express themselves a little more on the pitch, and to focus on doing the basics well. With a little more freedom, Erik can really do well in the Premier League. I can put my hand on my heart and say that I watched Erik Lamela relatively regularly for Roma last season, and I know how he can dominate games and beat players when his confidence is high. I know what Erik can do, and I believe we would regret selling the young Argentinian for years to come if we let him go permanently. Don’t let it happen, Daniel.
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