Breaking Down Tottenham's January Transfer Window Business

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2014

Lewis Holtby celebrates scoring against Fulham in December, the club he has now joined on loan for the remainder of the season.
Lewis Holtby celebrates scoring against Fulham in December, the club he has now joined on loan for the remainder of the season.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

There were no expensive outlays or dramatic last-minute acquisitions for Tottenham Hotspur in the January transfer window just past.

Given the North London club spent so heavily last summer on players currently in use, and/or yet to fulfill their potential, this was not surprising.

Instead, the main storylines surrounding Tottenham's January business related to departures from the club.

Deadline day saw Lewis Holtby join Fulham on loan for the remainder of the season, as the relegation-battling Cottagers proudly announced via their official Twitter page:

The midfielder had been linked earlier in the month with a move back to his previous club Schalke. The Mirror's Darren Lewis suggested that was a no-go for Spurs, with chairman Daniel Levy fearing this would help allow rivals Arsenal to sign the German club's star man Julian Draxler.

Whether or not this was a consideration, the driving factor in letting Holtby out on loan was the German's own desire for a regular starting berth.

Andre Villas-Boas made infrequent use of Lewis Holtby this season.
Andre Villas-Boas made infrequent use of Lewis Holtby this season.Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Initially agreeing to join in summer 2013, Spurs brought forward his arrival that January. Holtby fulfilled his bit-part role willingly, coming in as and when Andre Villas-Boas needed him. A couple of his cameo appearances—particularly those off the bench against Norwich City and Manchester City—hinted at how the bustling, positively-minded midfielder might be used by Spurs in a more central role.

Under Villas-Boas this season, Holtby was given that chance in cup games, responding with effective showings as the attacking fulcrum of the midfield. League opportunities were infrequent, however, with newer signings Christian Eriksen and Paulinho predominantly preferred.

Tim Sherwood's promotion of Nabil Bentaleb to first-team duty was the likely catalyst in Holtby's mind in deciding to request a move. The latter's absence through injury at the turn of the year played its part in his younger teammate getting games. Even so, the prospect of losing out on further playing time to someone else not even previously in the mix will have been understandably frustrating for Holtby.

The 23-year-old has been unfortunate to a degree, but it could be argued he has not done enough to guarantee himself a starting place. Bright displays in the cups and in the league against Aston Villa and Fulham have demonstrated his qualities. Others—like his most recent start against West Bromwich Albion—have highlighted a quiet tendency that verges on ineffectual at times.

With this in mind, Sherwood evidently feels he has his bases covered with seven others who can play in central midfield. Holtby (a regular participant in the club's social media output, as seen in the video above) did appear to take to life at Spurs and could still figure at White Hart Lane beyond 2013-14, with the manager telling "we look forward to welcoming him back in the summer."

One player who will not be around North London much longer is the Major League Soccer-bound Jermain Defoe. The striker officially joins Toronto FC on February 28, ending a decade-long association with Tottenham.

Even more so than Holtby, Defoe has largely been confined to extracurricular outings of late. The Toronto move was certainly attractive financially—BBC Sport reported he "agreed a four-year deal, worth £68,000 per week, potentially rising to £90,000". MLS' burgeoning reputation and the challenge of revitalising a perennially lacklustre Toronto franchise will have appealed to his competitive instincts.

Jermain Defoe was introducted at his new club Toronto prior to his officially joining them in February.
Jermain Defoe was introducted at his new club Toronto prior to his officially joining them in February.Jag Gundu/Getty Images

In the Spurs official website's announcement of Defoe's departure, Sherwood noted Spurs "have a goal threat from players in other areas of the pitch (besides up front) including having wide players and attacking midfielders who will enable us to vary our shape when required."

Considering Defoe's relatively minimal recent involvement too, the reasoning for not yet investing in an experienced replacement is understandable. Nonetheless, Spurs could still regret letting the England international depart if poor form or injuries hit those who remain.

Also departing Tottenham in January were a couple of youth team products.

Simon Dawkins has endured a stop-start few years in a career that can just about still be classed as fledgling, despite him already being 26. With diverse loan experience ranging from Strasbourg and San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS, to a spell with Aston Villa last season, the attacker now gets his chance to build on a positive few months with Derby County having joined the Championship club permanently.

Adam Smith's time out on loan was confined to the Football League, with the right-back appearing for seven clubs, including Bournemouth, who he has now joined on a three-and-a-half year deal.

With Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton in front of him, the 22-year-old was facing an uphill battle in adding to his two Spurs appearances. Smith certainly had no hard feelings about trying his luck elsewhere:

Possibly taking up the battle to displace the two Kyles over the coming years is the versatile Ryan Fredericks. The 21-year-old impressed at right-back against Anzhi Makhachkala in December and has been awarded a contract extension until 2016. Millwall will be his home until May as he continues his development.

Ryan Fredericks is congratulated by his Millwall teammates after scoring the winner against Ipswich Town on his Lions debut.
Ryan Fredericks is congratulated by his Millwall teammates after scoring the winner against Ipswich Town on his Lions debut.Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Jonathan Obika's future is looking less certain. After his contract was renewed until 2014 last year, injury has ravaged his season. Having scored sporadically on loan elsewhere, the 23-year-old striker's newly started loan with Brighton & Hove Albion is likely to be about him catching the eye in the hope of earning a fresh start.

Obika's fellow forward Shaquile Coulthirst may be one to take advantage of the former leaving down the line. Having made his Spurs debut against Makhachkala, he joined Leyton Orient on a month's loan in January, scoring against Carlisle United on his home debut. At the time of writing it was not clear if his stay there would be extended.

Besides any other potential loan transfers to lower league clubs, Tottenham have their squad sorted until May. A fascinating watch is sure to follow as we see the first signs of who may or may not be in favour beyond this year.