Since the close of the January transfer window, Tottenham Hotspur's presence in football rumor stories has mostly related to Gareth Bale, the Welshman's eye-catching form once again seeing him linked with transfers to various clubs. In recent days there has been talk of his club sticking a £70 million price tag on him, albeit not always from the most reputable of sources.
As we approach the current season's climax (and without getting too ahead of ourselves), Tottenham and many other clubs will be actively preparing certain aspects of their summer business plans. Who is leaving? Who will be staying? Who will be coming in?
More than most, Tottenham's transfer dealings (especially in terms of who they sign) hinge upon their finish to this campaign.
Champions League qualification will give manager Andre Villas-Boas more scope to invest in a higher quality of player. Failure to finish in the top-four will make it harder to attract such players, and it also throws Bale's future further into question.
They are subjects hard to escape from in discussing Tottenham right now, so pivotal are they to the club's future prospects. If Bale does want to leave, which is certainly possible in the event of them missing out on a fourth place finish or higher, Spurs will be suitably compensated for the loss of his services. However, they will have also lost his services!
The first rumblings of rumored activity by many Premier League clubs are starting to increase in volume. Bale is not the only big name being linked elsewhere, with Yaya Toure and Luis Suarez's names being mentioned for possibles moves. In terms of players coming in, Radamel Falcao is again being linked with Chelsea.
One of the few notable names linked with Spurs in recent weeks has been Gonzalo Higuain. It is a perfect example of the type of story to be found this time of year—unsubstantiated, but with enough reason to it that it might not automatically be regarded as trash.
Tottenham's main positional need this summer is signing at least one top-class striker. Higuain, a generally prolific scorer with Real Madrid (save for difficulties this season with manager Jose Mourinho) certainly fits that bill. A Spurs side in the Champions League managed by one of Europe's up-and-coming managers feasibly seems an attractive proposition to a player used to competing on football's biggest stages.
Higuain was also linked with Spurs last summer, and of course with Real Madrid's long-mooted interest in Bale, the Argentinian could be touted as a makeweight in any deal for the North London club's star player.
Of course, the flimsiness of such stories and the reasoning behind them is soon made apparent by disagreements between different media outlets. Arsenal are said to be just as keen on Higuain, while Real might have turned their attention away from Bale to Sergio Aguero.
There is always the chance Tottenham could make a late-season, early move for a player, like they did with Luka Modric in 2008. During April of that year, they bought the midfielder for £15.8 million from Dinamo Zagreb, a shrewd bit of business, coming as it did before a European Championships in which the Croatian would excel.
A story in Thursday's Metro newspaper demonstrates where that type of early deal might occur, linking Spurs with Southampton's young defender Luke Shaw. Given he only recently signed a new contract it would be a surprise move, however younger players like Shaw do fit the type that Spurs do like to get to early (Bale, Modric, Aaron Lennon and Wayne Routledge were among those signed young, or at points prior to them making big names for themselves.).
As we move further into spring, the proximity to the end of the season means it is worth keeping an eye on who Tottenham (or whoever your club is) are linked with. Take certain stories with a pinch of salt and bare in mind related circumstances. But in a Premier League that is as competitive up the top as it has been for sometime, there are some potentially exciting maneuverings ahead.
Former Spurs captain Mabbutt recovering after "emergency operation"
Tottenham Hotspur's official website announced on Thursday that club great Gary Mabbutt is "making a successful recovery from an emergency operation to cure a circulation blockage in his left leg."
The former captain, 51, will be spend the following fortnight recovering in a London hospital. We wish him a full recovery.