6 Tottenham Hotspur Players Who Should Be Sold in the Summer
Tottenham Hotspur's potential summer transfer business is up in the air so long as they are without a manager.
Even with technical director Franco Baldini and a staff of scouts appraising targets and the club's own squad, any moves right now are too risky without the input of the head coach who will be working with them.
Whoever is appointed, it is already clear Tottenham need to trim a playing staff stretching the seams, particularly in midfield.
Identifying players that should go, or who are likely to make way, is naturally subject to the interpretation of a manager who might have different things in mind.
It is safe to assume, however, the names on the following list will be among those considered for departures for a variety of reasons.
For Heurelho Gomes, 2013-14 was the nadir of his time with Tottenham.
Already on the out with the north London club for the previous two years, a move elsewhere was not forthcoming. He did not play once all season, and saw 21-year-old Jordan Archer move ahead of him in the pecking order.
Gomes has his flaws as a goalkeeper, chiefly a lack of confidence which undermines his ability to recover from mistakes.
Nonetheless, he is far too talented a shot-stopper to be wasting away not playing football. Former team-mate Ledley King obviously thinks so, giving a glowing reference of Gomes in the official matchday programme for his recent testimonial:
I've always said Heurelho Gomes is an incredible goalkeeper. He could make saves that no other goalkeeper could make. David James, who I played with for England, was also like that. Gomes was terrific, especially in the season when we qualified for the Champions League.
The 33-year-old's contract with Spurs is set to expire this summer. It is possible the club's new manager could see a role for him in the squad. More likely, though, Gomes will be allowed to leave and try to revitalise his career.
I have one more year on my contract with Tottenham. As many people know, Tottenham are a good club and if I can finish my contract there, cool. If people don't want me there, then I will have to find another club. But my first target is to stay at Tottenham.
Assou-Ekotto's wish may yet be fulfilled.
Danny Rose and Zeki Fryers have played at left-back in his absence, impressing on occasion, but not so consistently they have necessarily dissuaded Spurs from looking elsewhere in the position (though in fairness to Fryers his opportunities were limited). The versatile Jan Vertonghen's evident dislike for playing there is likely to preclude him covering again unless he is desperately needed.
Assou-Ekotto offers experience and remains a good-quality full-back. Yet, while he is an option Spurs should not discard lightly, this summer is probably the opportune time to ship him out.
His level of performance has diminished slightly over the past couple of years. Aged 30, he is unlikely to improve.
With one year left on his contract, Spurs could get a reasonable transfer fee selling Assou-Ekotto. In Cameroon's provisional World Cup squad, should he make the cut and play, being in the shop window of a major tournament would likely see him generate some interest, too.
I want to be playing every single week. I want to be playing regularly. I am not sure what is going to happen, but if I can’t hold down a first-team spot then I do have to look elsewhere.
As it turned out, Naughton would finish the season playing regularly in his preferred right-back spot. Down the stretch he was one of Tottenham's better performers, making the most of Kyle Walker's injury-enforced absence.
Given his chance, the defender gave a good account of himself. If he is ever going to take Walker's place as first-choice right-back, it is going to be this summer.
But if Walker is still preferred, the 25-year-old is understandably unlikely to want to hang around as back-up.
After his loan spell with Norwich City two years ago, his recent appearances have reinforced his ability to thrive at Premier League level. He would almost certainly attract interest if he became available.
With two years left on Naughton's contract Spurs should look to receive a healthy fee if they decide to sell.
First and foremost, though, they must either make sure they are satisfied with the versatile Ryan Fredericks becoming Walker's cover and competition. Or bring in someone they believe can do the job.
Given their issues with numbers at left-back in recent years, Spurs do not want the same problem on the opposite flank.
In Michael Dawson's absence, the Frenchman assumed the Tottenham captaincy, performing well and leading by example during the run-in—at least until the Hammers setback.
Less than convincing displays in losses at home to Benfica and away at Liverpool prior to April were not Kaboul's finest hours. Mostly, though, he hinted enough at being the player who so impressed in 2011-12 to suggest why Spurs might want to keep him around.
With his contract expiring this summer, however, allowing Kaboul to leave might be the ideal excuse to change things up in central defence.
Spurs would be foolish to let Dawson go this summer, at least not without replacing him with a player with genuine, proven leadership qualities. The prospect of a happy Vertonghen fulfilling his talent is enough reason why the club should work to keep him around.
Before getting injured in early February, Vlad Chiriches had impressed alongside Dawson over the preceding few months and is also four years younger than Kaboul. Fryers too has youth on his side and could yet be someone the club look to develop at centre-back.
You could argue for a dominant, fully-fit Kaboul being as worthy of keeping around as any of these. But if whoever Tottenham appoint as manager decides to make his own imprint on the position, letting Kaboul go is the obvious way of making space.
On loan at Hull City, Jake Livermore finished the season with an FA Cup runners-up medal and 42 appearances to his name. He made the fourth most of any outfield player for the Tigers in the Premier League, in the process playing the most football of his fledgling career.
Having impressed for the newly-promoted club with assured, convincing work in the centre of midfield, Livermore did more than enough to warrant another chance with Tottenham.
As with any of these players featured, their possible futures in north London largely depend on what the incoming head coach has in mind.
Unless the new guy has something specific in mind for Livermore, it is difficult to see him being preferred ahead of expensively recruited players like Mousa Dembele and Paulinho, or even someone like Nabil Bentaleb, who has come through in his absence.
With two years left on his current deal, Spurs can get a good fee for a young English player like Livermore. In Hull, too, they have a ready-made buyer for the 24-year-old.
"I'll do everything I can to buy Jake," Tigers boss Steve Bruce told the Hull Daily Mail earlier this month. "All things being equal, Jake would like to stay here. Why wouldn't he? He's played every week."
Lewis Holtby/Gylfi Sigurdsson
Cheating slightly with this entry, choosing between Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson as a player Tottenham should sell proved difficult.
Each have differences to Christian Eriksen, but their shared creative, forward-minded attributes and instincts make it more likely they will be competing with him for a role as an attacking midfielder than necessarily with others elsewhere (though both can also do a job in central midfield proper if given the chance, as well as out wide).
Given the Dane's edge in quality over Holtby and Sigurdsson, they are both looking at playing an understudy role to him unless fitted elsewhere.
Deciding between the two will come down to the new manager. That is not a decision to be envied.
Neither have made the kind of (essentially) immediate impact Eriksen has, but then again opportunities in their preferred central positions were limited. Both possess qualities Spurs will not really want to see being deployed elsewhere, either.
Sigurdsson's shooting ability really came to the fore last season. His seven goals joined Eriksen and Paulinho in compensating for issues up-front.
Holtby was a valuable go-to guy in cup games especially. His eye for a pass and movement off the ball providing a fluidity few of his midfield peers provided.
Back from his loan spell with Fulham, the cheerful and entertaining Holtby's running-battle with fellow German Steffen Freund was one of the big hits of Ledley King's testimonial last week (in which a current Spurs team took on the former captain's old boys XI). Characters do not necessarily win games, but they can aid team morale and establish an important relationship with supporters in the process, something which should not be overlooked when it comes to Hotlby.
Ideally Spurs would be able to keep both him and Sigurdsson around. But with competition for places in the club's midfield fierce, it is probable one of them will be among the first to depart this summer.