Tottenham Hotspur Must Look Past World Cup Hype in Transfer Market

Chris PotterCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 02:  Diego Forlan of Uruguay strikes the ball during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Quarter Final match between Uruguay and Ghana at the Soccer City stadium on July 2, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

While many players are making a name for themselves on the world football scene in South Africa this summer, it has been a quiet period at White Hart Lane.

But Tottenham fans should not be concerned by the club's apparent lack of transfer activity.

When chairman Daniel Levy brought Harry Redknapp to the club from Portsmouth for a £5 million ($7 million) compensatory fee in 2008, he signed a manager who was renowned for his knowledge of the English game and, as importantly, his expertise in the transfer market.

Redknapp had, after all, signed Lassana Diarra, Glen Johnson, and Sulley Muntari for Portsmouth. All three players helped Portsmouth to a top-half Premier League finish and FA Cup glory. All three were sold on by the south coast club for a healthy profit.

When he arrived at White Hart Lane, his first actions involved persuading Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane, and Pascal Chimbonda to return to a disharmonious club they had left in the same year.

And while Keane and Chimbonda did not have the on-field impact Redknapp expected, the squad seemed to possess more confidence and togetherness, and the club was quickly back on the road to recovery from a Juande Ramos-induced trauma.

Defoe, who never wanted to leave Tottenham in the first place, has scored many important goals since his return and was comfortably the team's top scorer last season. 

But, in finishing fourth last season, the first team and squad showed that it now has the quality and mentality to achieve the success which fans have dreamed of since the inauguration of the Premier League nearly 20 years ago and beyond.

And the players believe in themselves, the club and Redknapp. Indeed, outstanding players Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon, and Luka Modric have all signed new contracts recently.

In contrast to when Redknapp took over as manager, there is little "deadwood" within the squad and, although players such as David Bentley, Alan Hutton, and Robbie Keane may have to look elsewhere for football, they will not part with the club acrimoniously and on the cheap.

Rather, they will generate important cash flow for Spurs to build a Champions League team for next season.

Not that the team needs to change much.

In the English core of Crouch, Dawson, Huddlestone, Lennon, O'Hara, and Defoe, they have players who will be keen to create a legacy at White Hart Lane; players who, if they can better last year's achievements, should manage to convince England manager Fabio Capello that they, not Gerrard, Lampard, and Terry, are the national team's future.

Tottenham also has a trio of Croats, who have taken the team to a new level in both defence and attack. They will be fresh and raring to go following a summer free of international commitments.

Add to that core a Brazilian goalkeeper who continues to grow in form and stature, a Welsh winger who may yet become the team's MVP, and a Russian striker who knows where the back of the net is, and it becomes clear that wholesale changes to the squad would be wholly inappropriate.

Nevertheless, there are some positions in which the team will need reinforcing, notably at left-back, in central midfield, and up front.

Cameroon's Benoit Assou-Ekotto, despite a solid season at full-back, has proven in South Africa that his poor position can prove costly to the team.

He also dismayed Spurs fans last year when he conceded a needless penalty through in an important end-of-season match against Manchester United.

He, like Wilson Palacios in midfield, does not have the discipline off the ball or quality on the ball to compete in the higher echelons.

This was proven by both players' mediocre World Cup displays. In fact, there were only 11 players last year who conceded more Premier League fouls than Palacios.

In attack, Reddknapp favourites Crouch and Defoe are certain to remain and may start next season as first choice.

But, in Keane and Pavlyuchenko, Tottenham have auxiliary strikers who are desperate for regular first-team football and have sizable transfer values.

Although Redknapp has already added 21-year-old feisty Brazilian midfielder Sandro, an U21 international for the Samba nation, to the ranks, it is a move which is seen to have more long-term than short-term benefits.

He could look to players such as Spain left-back Joan Capdevila, Japanese midfielder Yasuhito Endo, or Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan to fill these position.

All three have had excellent tournaments for their country and are likely to star in the knockout stages. 

But none is a tried and tested Premier League player. Each one will take time to settle down in England. 

In fact, Forlan may need more time than the other two in order to erase, for his and English fans' memory, his unhappy spell at Old Trafford.

Additionally, these are players who speak little English, who will be tired from the exertions of their exploits in the Rainbow Nation, and who would only be able to join up with a Premier League squad a couple of weeks before the start of the season in August.

This is not to mention their transfer fees, which are now likely to be disproportionate to their value as players, both individually and within a team.

Tottenham would be better advised to look closer to home. Initially, chairman Levy should do everything in his power to sign England duo Micah Richards and Joe Cole.

Richards would cost in the region of £10 million and can play as right-back, centre-back, and defensive midfielder: Cole is a free agent and could be the perfect creative spark on the left in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

At left-back, Tottenham should persevere with Gareth Bale. Firstly, because it is a position which is difficult and expensive to fill.

Secondly, because he can learn the role and be more valuable to the team as a marauding full-back a la Ashley Cole, especially if Redknapp can identify a defensive midfielder to cover his tracks.

Here, Redknapp may be tempted to bring Interazionale and Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari, scorer of a wondergoal in last night's quarterfinal defeat to Uruguay, back to England.

Redknapp worked with Muntari at Portsmouth, and the Ghanaian is thought to be disillusioned by former manager Jose Mourinho's departure to Real Madrid.

In attack, Redknapp's needs will be dictated by the offers he receives for Keane and Pavlyuchenko.

Targets are known to include Palermo's Edinson Cavani, Brazilian hotshot Luis Fabiano, and Porto's Radomel Falcao, as well as Forlan (pictured) and compatriot Luis Suarez.

All have Champions League experience and form in front of goal. All would cost a pretty penny.

If there is one thing the Tottenham team lacks, it is Champions League experience. It is for this reason more than any other that I expect Joe Cole and Muntari to sign on.

Elsewhere, Redknapp will be involved in an almighty fight to persuade England's next "golden generation"—the likes of Milner and Richards—that White Hart Lane is where they can make themselves great.

The biggest question mark remains over the strike option he has. Does he feel Crouch and Defoe are good enough to take the team onto another level?

Perhaps he feels that he could tempt Manchester United to part with former Spur Dimitar Berbatov?


Possible Tottenham team next year :

Gomes; Corluka, Richards, Dawson, Bale; Milner, Huddlestone; Lennon, Modric, Cole; Berbatov/Crouch


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