Tottenham Hotspurs’ impressive 2-1 win against Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday saw Andre Villas-Boas’ team surge seven points ahead of Arsene Wenger’s men in the English Premier League table.
As it stands, with 10 games left to go in the 2012-13 season, Spurs are on course for a third-place finish—their best ever in the Premier League era.
So, just like City before them, Spurs approach an important period where they can and should make use of the transfer market to bring in players to take them from top four fixtures to title contenders and Champions League regulars.
Here are six such players who might just be able to take Tottenham to the next level.
With Hugo Lloris proving to be a bargain buy for Tottenham and the full-back positions secure for years to come with exciting players manning the flanks, the one defensive position up for grabs, despite Michael Dawson’s impressive resurrection from squad backup to first-teamer, is in central defence.
Step up Ryan Shawcross, who has the pace, aggression, heading and tackling to add some steel to the Spurs defence alongside the ball-playing Jan Vertonghen, who has been an equally impressive addition to the Spurs ranks.
Shawcross has been linked with the big boys before, including Tottenham themselves (via Metro), and while his contract extension this January will have added a few million to his price tag, that might not stop them from coming back again in the summer.
After all, he’s got an England career to worry about, and what greater exposure can he get than Champions League football?
But if Shawcross proves just a tad too expensive for bargain-hunting chairman Daniel Levy, a player most familiar to Vertonghen from their days at Ajax will be waiting in the wings.
Toby Alderweireld has played with the current first-choice defenders at both of North London’s finest clubs—Vertonghen and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen—and has carved out a reputation for himself as a physical and tough-tackling defender.
His right-footedness makes him an ideal complement to Vertonghen in the heart of the Tottenham defence, and his versatility can see him fill in at right-back, just as Vertonghen can on the left.
Alderweireld is already part of a promising generation of Belgian footballers—he could join a similar golden generation at White Hart Lane as well.
Provided that the current midfield contingent stays at Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas has a very solid core of players to call on, with just the central attacking midfield position up for grabs if Gareth Bale isn’t deployed in a free attacking role.
Ajax’s Christian Eriksen would join a former colleague in Jan Vertonghen at the Lane (and if Alderweireld joins as well, two of them) and immediately form one of the most exciting young attacking midfields in all of Europe alongside Gareth Bale and Lewis Holtby.
Having set the Dutch Eredivisie on fire in the past couple of years, Eriksen has been linked with a selection of Europe’s best teams, and while rumors linking him with a move to Liverpool have intensified in recent weeks (via Metro), he has been linked to Spurs before (via the Guardian) and would represent a massive transfer coup.
Having worked with Villas-Boas before, Moutinho would be a clear and confident choice in the midfield, and his impressive work rate and creativity on show at Euro 2012 could only have made him a more appealing prospect for Tottenham.
It helps that Porto sorted out his third-party ownership situation this January (via the Daily Mail). It also helps that he fits into an energetic setup under Tottenham’s young manager. And signing a midfielder with an established continental reputation could be the start of some great things at White Hart Lane.
For all of our suggestions for defenders and midfielders, we all know that Tottenham’s most pressing need is up front, where Emmanuel Adebayor has been sadly underwhelming this season and where strength in depth is sorely lacking.
There aren’t many lone strikers around Europe who offer the complete package that AVB’s system calls for, but perhaps he can look in the Premier League first, and towards the bottom of the league at that.
Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke might have cost a tidy £7 million last summer, but he has confounded his doubters with a string of impressive performances for Paul Lambert’s relegation battlers, with 11 league goals scored in 25 games. But most impressive has been his physical style, which reminds us of Didier Drogba, and Benteke is only 22.
So it isn’t a surprise that he’s already been linked with a move to Spurs this summer (via the Daily Mail), and it definitely wouldn’t be a surprise if he went on to fulfill his potential leading the line for Andre Villas-Boas in the coming seasons.
As ever, our last suggestion is the most ambitious, and Bayern Munich’s master finisher Mario Gomez is most definitely the most high-profile name on this list.
Having been so influential for the Bavarians last season, Gomez has found himself spending more time on the sidelines than on the pitch following Mario Mandzukic’s arrival and fine goalscoring form—the Croatian has scored 15 goals in the Bundesliga in just 20 games. And this, understandably, has thrown Gomez’s future at Bayern up in the air.
With Pep Guardiola arriving at the German champions-in-waiting at the end of the season and a fluid passing style to be implemented, Gomez’s status as a first-team regular could well be over, and Tottenham should go all out to add such a proven goalscorer to their team.
He would most definitely lead their charge towards the Premier League title.
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