Will Moutinho play his Portugal role for Spurs?
Jan Vertonghen, Gylfi Sigurdsson: In.
And of course, the one big name supposedly on his way out of White Hart Lane: Luka Modric (Daily Mail).
In the wake of Tottenham’s recent appointment of ambitious young coach Andre Villas-Boas, there are big things around the corner at White Hart Lane.
Having spent four seasons under the tutelage of Harry Redknapp and his free-for-all attacking approach that at times resulted in some breathtaking attacking football, the Spurs squad have now been subject to a quite radical change toward their training regime.
Villas-Boas, a coach who made his name as a producer of detailed opposition scout reports under Jose Mourinho’s management at Chelsea, continued his famously methodical system at Porto, where he earned accolades for his studious approach.
And he has been a keen admirer of the attacking 4-3-3 tactical system all throughout his career—a system that might have contributed to bringing an early end to his tenure at Stamford Bridge, long established as a defensive fortress.
But amidst whispers that he may have to depart from his favored system with Tottenham, a quick look at his rumored primary targets suggests that the 4-3-3 is here to stay.
Let’s skip the goalkeeping situation—where an established backup and successor to Brad Friedel is badly needed, explaining the rumored pursuit of Lyon’s Hugo Lloris (Daily Mail)—and go straight to the back four.
In a 4-3-3, which features a more compact midfield, the full-backs are expected to provide the width. Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are experts at bombing forward.
The central defensive partnership, then, would ideally feature a ball-playing central-back that can provide the passes to make use of the flanks and to play to the midfield base, hence the signing of Jan Vertonghen.
Moving on to the midfield, which might feature the most significant changes by the end of the summer.
A midfield trio capable of interchanging positions, short passing play and high-energy pressing is key in this system.
With Scott Parker starting in the middle and providing his terrier-like off-the-ball harassing of the opposition midfield, Sigurdsson was plucked from under Liverpool’s noses to augment this high-energy approach.
Which explains the pursuit of Joao Moutinho, who perfected these attributes since moving to Porto and who showed them to great effect in Portugal’s Euro 2012 campaign.
And, incidentally, also explains the lack of a concerted effort in keeping Modric at the Lane.
Because while Modric is perhaps one of the best midfield playmakers in Europe, his languid and slower style does not make him an automatic fit in a midfield so focused on energy and pressing. (See Frank Lampard’s exclusion from AVB’s Chelsea starting XI.)
Up front, with a central targetman in Adebayor capable of holding the play up and wreaking havoc on his own, Spurs can line up with two wingers flanking a primary striker.
Step up Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon (not so much Rafael van der Vaart, who might not find a regular place in the new Spurs).
In an ambitious system like Villas-Boas’ 4-3-3, all of the rumored signings make sense.
Not only that: They are strongly reminiscent of Paulo Bento’s Euro 2012 Portugal side, which won so many plaudits this summer.
A Parker-Sigurdsson-Moutinho trio that can mirror the midfield partnership of Moutinho, Raul Meireles and Miguel Veloso.
A wing-heavy setup that will try to imitate Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani.
A targetman who possesses much more fearsome attributes than Helder Postiga (who, incidentally, used to be a Spurs player).
If all goes according to plan at White Hart Lane, Andre Villas-Boas could well be devising a Portugal Mark II.
How exciting that would be for Spurs fans and for the whole of the English Premier League.
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