The case for the Tottenham defence


For most of the summer, Tottenham’s transfer concerns have dealt with Gareth Bale and their inadequate striking options. Recently a turn of events has shifted the focus. This is not to say Gareth Bale won’t continue to haunt the back pages of newspapers or that the signing of Soldado is any less praise worthy.

The story can be traced back to February when Andre Villas-Boas told reporters he did not believe a team needed five centre backs. Villas-Boas told the reporter “It’s a difficult one; we won’t start another season with five centre backs,” fast forward to June and the release of William Gallas and the stage is set for the current predicament. The release of William Gallas was a necessary one for the 35 year old Frenchman had clearly lost a lot of his abilities. The former Gunner and Chelsea man was slow, both physically and mentally and his lapses gifted goals leaving the Tottenham defence porous. After his release Tottenham was left with Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul, Steven Caulker, Bongani Khumalo, Nathan Byrne, and Grant Hall. The Tottenham defence looked to be a completely solidified part of the team. Jan Vertonghen was always going to start alongside either Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson while Steven Caulker served as a rotation squad member. The rest were set for stints on the reserve team or out on loan. Accordingly, Bongani Khumalo was sent to Doncaster Rovers while Byrne and Hall joined the Tottenham youth team which is also known as Swindon Town.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly, Gareth Bale was shooting promotions in the new kit, the Soldado deal was in the works, and Tottenham had four good centre backs.

The English Premier League’s popularity in the Asian counties has always been high. Born out of this was the Barclays’ Asia Trophy, a friendly involving one home side and a host of English sides. From the moment Tottenham landed in Hong Kong the rain fell, Hong Kong’s subtropical climate usually averages 14 inches of rain with temperatures in the high 80s during July. Tottenham nevertheless took to the deplorably soggy pitch in their friendly defeat against Sunderland. During the game Belgian stalwart Jan Vertonghen slipped after coming in as a substitute and suffered damage to his ankle ligament. After scans and tests revealed Vertonghen would miss the Crystal Palace opener and was questionable for Swansea Tottenham went out and sold Steven Caulker for roughly £9 Million to newly-promoted Cardiff City.

Steven Caulker was sold to Cardiff City.

The 21 year old English international was not amazing but he was a young solid centre back who wasn’t susceptible to many mistakes that defenders make nowadays. At just 21, Caulker had at least a decade of top-flight football in him and had the potential to grow and serve Tottenham faithfully. A product of the Tottenham youth team since 2005, Caulker had risen through the ranks serving on loan for teams like Swansea and Yeovil Town and for Tottenham during Europa and Cup matches. Now Caulker who broke Cardiff’s transfer record will be sporting the red for the Welsh team and will look to slot into their starting XI.

Tottenham had gone from having a surplus to having a shortage. This transfer window was deemed different by club and supporters as the club looked to inject the needed players for a run of Champions League ball. Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, and barring some medical disaster Soldado are new members of the North London side. Peripheral players like David Bentley were sent packing and the club seemed to have a grasp on the Gareth Bale situation. Now by injury and sales, Tottenham are looking for a centre back.

As is, Tottenham has only one healthy centre back in the shape of Captain Michael Dawson. The 29 year old is the longest serving player along with Tom Huddlestone, as he has been a part of the club for over seven years. Younes Kaboul’s knee is not fully healed nor is the powerful Frenchman ready for 90 minutes of Premier action. Jan Vertonghen is injured, hopefully for only a short time and Steven Caulker, Khumalo, Byrne, and Hall are all wearing different kits this season.

Tottenham now has a shortage and clubs around Europe know it. Andre Villas-Boas acted by sending a deal for Romanian Vlad Chiricheș of Steaua Bucharest which seemed set to go through before Steaua’s owner Gigi Becali, a spectacularly corrupt man by Western standards, who currently sits in a prison blocked the deal.

Tottenham is now left scrambling for defenders, rash decisions by one or more of Tottenham’s brass has left the club in an entirely unnecessary position. Jan Vertonghen will be back but Villas-Boas may be forced to rush him back into the Starting XI before his injury has fully healed only leading to a longer layoff. Kaboul may struggle in his return if he is not healthy or fit enough stamina wise to return to the club. Tottenham must decide quickly on how many and who to pick up for centre back cover.

Vlad Chiricheș may still be headed to Spurs but if that deal remains blocked, the white side of North London must look for alternatives. Toby Alderweireld is an option; he clearly has stated his desire to leave and is connected to Tottenham by Jan Vertonghen and the growing Belgium contingency in Tottenham. Valued fairly cheaply at around 6 to 10 Million, the Belgium centre back would be an investment in the future as well as current prospects. Andrea Ranocchia would be a major coup for Tottenham but would not be a cost effective target. He would command a top level fee that would be out of reach unless a certain Welshman was sent south. Feyenoord centre back Stefan de Vrij is a highly rated youth but has currently stated his desire to stay at the Eredivisie side for another season. Mainz’s Niko Bungert and Greek international Dimitris Siovas are also options.

How a summer seemed to turn so bleak confounds me. The transfer window can still be seen as a success, Paulinho will bolster a powerful midfield, Soldado will net goals, and Chadli will provide width to a team that needs it. Gareth Bale remains as of now, and recent reports have free agent Carlton Cole training with the squad in preparation for a match against newly promoted Ligue 1 side A.S. Monaco. The quick sale of Steven Caulker after Vertonghen’s injury was a questionable decision which left Tottenham in need of centre backs with 30 days left in the transfer window. Now Levy, Baldini, and Villas-Boas will have to go out and spend money to find players for a position that three weeks ago was completely filled.


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  1. Toby Alderwield – He has been spoken about by several of the top teams, he knows Vertonghen well from playing together at Ajax and is available at about 9/10 mil – No brainer

  2. Even though he wanted a move to improve his world cup chances, we should have only agreed to a load deal. Home grown players like him are the soul our club, young players need game time that top 8 clubs cannot provide this for them.
    How many games does Bertram play for Chelsea, not enough for him to reach his true potential.

  3. Id rather sell Dawson than Caulker.
    Dawson is only a shot blocker…other than that he's weak.
    Unsteady,weak ball control and passer, plus bad in position.
    Caulker is younger.Although in learning process he is useful for the future of Spurs.


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