EPL: On Their Way to Spurs? It Makes You Juande
With just a handful of games remaining until the Premier League season comes to an end, managers will already have an idea of who they want to bring in for their next campaign.
Juande Ramos at Spurs has been quite vocal about his need to bring in quality throughout his team and the likelihood is that wholesale changes will be made. Tottenham’s main weaknesses this season has been their lack of solidity at the back and inconsistency across the middle of the park.
Whilst the acquisitions of Jonathan Woodgate and Alan Hutton have certainly boosted their defensive options, the fragility still remains and with a lack of quality cover on the flanks and the inability for captain Ledley King to compete in two consecutive matches because of continuous knee trouble, fresh experienced defensive blood is essential.
In goal Paul Robinson has lost the plot over the last couple of seasons and a safer pair of hands between the sticks is certainly on the cards.
In an attacking sense, Tottenham are up there with the best and the midfield has contributed to this, however whilst goals aplenty have been scored this season, the midfield has failed at times, to control games when it counts and to help out at the back.
Jermaine Jenas, Didier Zokora and Tom Huddlestone have all had inconsistent and at times dreadful seasons and the likelihood of changes is almost guaranteed.
Up front, Dimitar Berbatov has caught the scent of Champions League football on the breeze and after another good season at White Hart Lane, suitors for the Bulgarian striker will be stretched around the stadium and down the High Road.
His likely departure will leave a huge hole not only in the goal scoring charts but creatively as well.
With this in mind who should the wily Spaniard be bringing in to beef up his team for an assault on the top four next year?
Here are five men who could fit the bill:
Marco Amelia, 26, (Livorno), Goalkeeper: According to reports the Italian stopper was all but signed in January and the rumours are mounting that Ramos will swoop again in the summer.
With over 150 appearances for the Amaranto, Amelia has been touted by a number of clubs across Europe and his status as second in line for the Italian National team no.1 jersey behind legendary keeper Gigi Buffon could make him a hot prospect for Tottenham.
His shot stopping and command of his box are excellent for a goalkeeper of relatively small stature (6ft 1in). He's even made the difference at the other end of the pitch, Amelia scored a late header in last season’s UEFA cup group stage against Partizan Belgrade.
His fee is likely to be no more than £5m although he is contracted to Livorno until 2011.
Christoph Metzelder, 27, (Real Madrid), Centre Back: The German’s "Bosman" move to Madrid from Borussia Dortmund slipped by quietly last summer and after his excellent defensive displays at the 2006 World Cup a call from the Madrid giants was not unsurprising given their need for quality defensive players.
His first season has not been a happy one however playing only a handful of games and with an injury in February forcing him out until potentially the end of the season and Germany’s Euro 2008 campaign, he may be feeling that lack of match time is having a negative effect on him.
He is a player Sir Alex Ferguson once quoted as being the “best central defender” and with 39 caps for his country under his belt, the reliable German could be just the man to solidify Tottenham’s defence. At around £8m he could form a perfect partnership with Woodgate.
Christian Poulsen, 28, (Sevilla), Centre Midfield: The 2005 and 2006 Danish player of the year is an integral part of Sevilla’s midfield put together by Ramos himself and went on to help the Spaniards retain the UEFA cup, win the European Super Cup and claim a Champions League berth.
He was also named Spain’s best new signing by Spanish sporting newspaper Marca in his first season. Having worked successfully under Ramos at Sevilla he may feel the urge to work with the Spaniard again and should Sevilla fail to gain Champions League football the lure of the Premier League may seem too great to turn down.
He is unlikely to be cheap but as a composed central midfield player who can pass and support the defence, anywhere from £10m to £12m could be well worth the money.
Joe Cole, 26, (Chelsea), Attacking Midfield: Undoubtedly England’s most consistent player at international level over the last few seasons, Cole has been used sporadically at Chelsea under both Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant, although more so this season.
His introduction always causes a stir in opposition defences and his creativity and drive is an asset that Chelsea miss when he is not there. His absence from the Carling Cup Final until extra time was a god-send to Spurs and his superb display at White Hart Lane in the 4-4 draw this season showed exactly how much he can influence a game.
Things are far from cosy at Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard is stalling on a new contract and Didier Drogba has already made his intentions to leave Chelsea clear. With increasing pressure on his manager and unrest at the club, he may feel it is time to see what life as a regular first team starter does to his career.
Tottenham’s lack of Champions League football would be a negative in Cole’s eyes and as a former West Ham man, his desire to play for another London club may be limited however as someone who clearly loves playing football a team like Spurs with plenty of potential and a young side could appeal to him and a cheeky £12m bid would certainly be worth it.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar, 24, (Ajax), Striker: The definition of a goal machine, his career stats at Ajax show he puts away more than a goal every other game and his introduction into the national side has provided similar statistics.
Nicknamed “The Hunter” the rangy striker has been described by Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster as “cloned from Marco Van Basten”. His pace, ability with both feet and his excellent technique has made him a top target for a number of clubs.
Up front as a lone striker or an out and out striker he could prove to be the cutting edge Spurs need should they lose Berbatov and with Robbie Keane as his support, he could thrive in a league where Ruud van Nistlerooy came into his own.
His displays in the upcoming Euro Championships in Switzerland and Austria may be the difference between a £15m and £20m price tag but with a sale of Berbatov likely to bring in over £20m, pushing the boat out for this young Dutchman is perfectly acceptable.
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