Tottenham: 7 Players Who Will Play a Big Role for Spurs Next Season
It's an understatement to say that Tottenham's summer is sharing up better than expected.
Reports out of White Hart Lane have been inspiring as of late. Gareth Bale has re-signed through 2016, Luka Modric is going to earn Spurs a boatload of cash in the transfer market, Scott Parker is shaping up to be a more-than-suitable replacement as captain of the midfield and Jan Vertonghen is one front office ego away from shoring up an already capable defensive back line.
There's a lot of expectations being placed on the Spurs of Tottenham this next season and fortunately, there are players ready to fulfill those expectations.
Who are the players with the biggest roles to fill? Join me and find out.
7. Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Assou-Ekotto is easily Tottenham's most improved player from last season and showed himself to be an incredible support for Gareth Bale along the left wing, providing speed and deft passes.
Early in the summer, The Telegraph was reporting that the attacking left-back might leave White Hart Lane, but he quickly swept those rumors under the rug by rejecting the exit talk and committing himself to a Spurs team that would sorely miss him.
Because Bale re-signed with Tottenham just days ago, Assou-Ekotto's role will be huge as opponents will continue to double up on the Welsh winger, leaving Assou-Ekotto with a chance to really make an impact on attack.
6. Brad Friedel
The (seemingly) ageless Friedel is 42, but it seems he's found another gear and is journeying into yet another incline in his game.
His 14 clean sheets were just three shy of the coveted Golden Glove and his 1.08 goals against average was bested by just four other 'keepers (all four of which, coincidentally, faced less shots on goal than Friedel).
His contract runs through June 2013, so he'll stand between the posts next season, but can Friedel hold on for one more year of magic?
5. Younes Kaboul
The heir apparent to Ledley King, Kaboul has all the tools to be a star in the Premier League. He's physical, he's quick and he's got size. If he plays to his strengths, he could improve a defense that was giving up 1.05 goals per match—fifth-best in the league.
But sometimes, the 26-year-old can get caught out of position and his eagerness to go forward and support the midfield gets him into trouble on opposing counterattacks.
With Tottenham's options at centre-back severely limited next season, Kaboul will be forced into one of the biggest roles on the team. His play will determine whether or not Spurs secures that top-four finish.
4. Scott Parker
Parker was absolutely necessary to Spurs' success last season, making 35 appearances in all competitions.
He's technically gifted and an excellent passer, two things Tottenham will desperately need if Luka Modric submits his transfer request, as has been reported by Yahoo! Sports.
I thought Parker played exceptionally well in the time given him at Euro 2012 and if he can continue to display a tireless work ethic on the pitch, it will bode well for Modric's replacement as Spurs' midfield maestro.
3. Rafael Van Der Vaart
Earlier this summer, there were talks of Van Der Vaart taking his talents to any number of beaches in Europe. But ESPN reported last month that the Dutch wonderboy has taken every effort to cool down the transfer talk and re-commit himself to Tottenham.
Which is very, very, very good for Spurs fans everywhere.
With the future uncertain for most of Tottenham's forwards—Emmanuel Adebayor might stay at Manchester City, Louis Saha is only signed through January and Giovanni Dos Santos is reportedly transferring—the only forward on Spurs' roster is oft-used backup Jermain Defoe.
Whoever comes in as forward for Tottenham (...paging Daniel Sturridge...) will need a little bit of time to get acclimated to his new teammates and tactics. Having Van Der Vaart as a support at attacking midfielder will be imperative to Spurs coming out of the gate running this August.
2. Jan Vertonghen (Hopefully!)
Months ago, it seemed as though a Vertonghen-to-Tottenham transfer was all but a reality. But after contract negotiations that left the Ajax superstar pleading for the clubs to hurry up and finish already, who knows what will be come the beginning of the season.
If Vertonghen makes it to White Hart Lane, he'd pair with Younes Kaboul and the centre-back duo would play the biggest of parts for Tottenham. But, the defensive hole a breakdown in negotiations could create would certainly be devastating for Spurs and not one easily filled before next season starts.
1. Gareth Bale
There's a reason Tottenham re-signed Bale to an expensive four-year contract extension.
Goal.com reported in January that Spurs' front office was on the cusp of signing the Welshman to a contract that would make him "the highest paid player in Tottenham's history" with a weekly salary of £100,000.
Teams don't pay that kind of money without huge expectations in mind. Bale will be Tottenham's offense next season—not a part of it, not a support to it, the whole of it.
Bale's the most important player for Spurs next season and in the seasons to come and his play will directly affect whether or not Tottenham makes regular appearances in the Champions League or not.