Keys to a Successful 2016 January Transfer Window for Tottenham Hotspur

Sam Rooke@@SamRooke89Featured ColumnistDecember 31, 2015

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the White Hart Lane, London, England, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

The January transfer window is just hours away.

Tottenham are comfortably inside the top four at the halfway point of the season and have shown signs of being ready to push through and secure Champions League football. The squad is fundamentally strong, with a hungry, young core of players who are growing with every passing game. 

There is quality outside the starting lineup, too.

The match-winner against Watford, Heung-Min Son, has started just five of Spurs' 19 games so far. Established internationals like Nacer Chadli and Nabil Bentaleb are also waiting for their chance to break back into the team. 

Mauricio Pochettino has built his team through three conservative but successful transfer windows in his 18 months as manager, but January 2016 could prove vital. 

The goal in any transfer window is to strengthen the team and avoid debilitating departures. 

None of Tottenham's key players appear likely to leave the club in January. 

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

However, deputy central defender Kevin Wimmer is rumoured to be a target of Marseille on loan. 

Such a move could help with Tottenham's ambition to sign Michy Batshuayi from Les Olympiens but should be resisted.

Federico Fazio, the only other senior centre-back at the club outside the starting duo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, is unreliable, and Spurs would put themselves in a weak position by allowing Wimmer to leave. The Austrian has made only a handful of starts (four) but has been solid and will get more opportunities as the season progresses. 

Sky Sports reports that Sevilla are hoping to re-sign former captain Fazio in January. That move would make sense for Tottenham. It would provide funds for reinforcements and free up a place for one of their promising young defenders to get their chance. 

The long-term knee injury suffered by Clinton Njie provides greater motivation for Spurs to seek out a new striker in January. 

Batshuayi is a fine option. A quick, reliable goalscorer who played previously under Pochettino's mentor Marcelo Bielsa, Batshuayi would likely fit in quickly at White Hart Lane. 

His failure to flourish under Bielsa would be something of a concern. Batshuayi started just six games under the Argentinian in 2014-15. 

The top target in the summer was West Brom's Saido Berahino. 

Claude Paris/Associated Press

The ultimately fruitless transfer saga hurt Berahino's standing at the club, but manager Tony Pulis' critical comments on Monday hint at additional issues. Pulis told BBC reporters that Berahino was "lucky to even be on the bench, never mind starting."

Unless Baggies chief Jeremy Peace steps in, Berahino is a realistic target in January. 

If Spurs are to pursue Berahino again, they should make it a priority to bring him in before the FA Cup third-round fixtures.

West Brom host Bristol City on January 9, and Pulis may not be able to resist using Berahino to give his preferred Premier League forwards a break. Should that happen, and should Spurs beat Leicester City the next day, Berahino would be frustratingly cup-tied.  

The last time that Tottenham entered a January transfer window in such a promising league position, they failed to show sufficient ambition. With Harry Redknapp's 2011-12 team comfortably third, the club signed free-agent duo Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen. 

It was a costly failure. 

Redknapp's side slipped to fourth, and Chelsea's improbable triumph in Munich cost them a Champions League place. 

Avoiding needlessly weakening their squad and finding a striker to complement Harry Kane's significant efforts are the two fundamental keys to this transfer window for Tottenham.

Since the chastising experience of splurging the Gareth Bale transfer bonanza on the less-than-magnificent seven, Spurs have preferred low-risk, high-reward transfers. 

Eric Dier and Dele Alli are the model that Spurs should follow to reach the third, though less urgent, goal of deepening the squad with young talent. 

The signing of a player like Birmingham City's Demarai Gray may have little impact on this season but would improve the squad for seasons to come. 

If Tottenham retain their key players, add another senior striker and cast a wide net for young players with potential to grow, this will be a successful transfer window. 

Pochettino will have the tools that he needs to make this a season to remember.