EPL: Olympic Stadium Furore Distracting Spurs From Transfer Window

Chris PotterCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2011

Ajax's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, a hero and villain in South Africa, is just one of a number of high-profile goalscorers which may slip through the fingers of  frugal Spurs
Ajax's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, a hero and villain in South Africa, is just one of a number of high-profile goalscorers which may slip through the fingers of frugal SpursBryn Lennon/Getty Images

What do Eidur Gudjohnsen, Ricardo Rocha, Chris Gunter, Hossam Ghaly, Grzegorz Rasiak and Andy Booth all have in common?

Exotic names? Booth and Gunter seems to spoil that option.

Premier League rejects? That might not be an unfair assessment.

However, the answer I was looking for was that these are all players which Tottenham Hotspur has inexplicably signed during the January transfer window over the past few years: The Bad and The Ugly.

But what about The Good? Alan Hutton, now the team's first-choice right-back having wrestled Croat Vedran Corluka out of the first team, arrived in the 2008 window and both Jermain Defoe and Younes Kaboul - also key members of the class of 2011 - saw the light and returned to White Hart Lane in 2009 and 2010 respectively to play under Harry Redknapp.

More misses than hits.

But what about this year? Will the club be willing and able to attract more top talent which will see them continue to push for a top-four place in the Premier League and guarantee their second appearance in the Champions League?

Despite the funds which will need to be set aside for a redevelopment of White Hart Lane dubbed the NDP (Northumberland Development Project) or, in a scenario which is controversial but increasingly likely, a move to take over the site of the Olympic Stadium in East London after the 2012 games, It seems there is little doubt that the club has the financial clout required to strengthen the first team considerably by the end of this week.

Manager Redknapp highlighted the difficulty of attracting world-class players at this time of the year in a New Year interview with the BBC: "Anybody whose got anybody who's real top class, they don't want to sell them at this stage of the season...unless it's somebody who's going to make a difference to the team then we really wouldn't bother''.

And while targets including renown South American strikers Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan and midfielder players such as Paris Saint-Germain's Stephane Sessegnon have emerged in the gossip columns of the tabloid press, nothing has materialised yet.

The reasons seem to be threefold: the players have price tags or wage demands which Tottenham's management deem unrealistic or unsound; those who are available will not improve the team sufficiently to make any more worthwhile; chairman Levy is having to spent a disproportionate amount of time responding to the nonsensical vitriol and emotional babble spewing forth from West Ham vice-chairman Karen Brady's mouth in The Sun regarding the North London club's ''outrageous'' and ''money-making'' bid to move in the Hammers' territory.

On a purely economical and pragmatic level, Tottenham's proposal to inherit The Olympic Stadium is far superior to West Ham's. Other factors which Spurs can use to their advantage is the phenomenal popularity of football and the support not only of footballing greats such as Pele and former striker Jimmy Greaves, but also of influential London 2012 vice-chairman Sir Keith Mills and AEG, the company which has revitalised the fortunes of the O2 Arena.

But what of the ins and outs in N17 this month?

International forwards Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko have been linked with almost every bottom-10 team in the league. The obstacle to Keane's exit seems to be the correlation between his age and his wage demands while Tottenham rate Pavlyuchenko highly meaning that any potential bidder would have to present the club with a sizeable offer for a player who has appeared to favour Cup football and struggled to score many goals league outings.

Five loan exits, including that of £15 million ($24 million) winger David Bentley, have cleared squad space but not brought in any funds. Only Supersport United defender Bongani Khumalo, who scored a goal for South Africa against France at this year's FIFA World Cup, has arrived and offered competition for places in central defence, an area which is already saturated with good but injury-prone players.

Despite reasonable success in the league and a great showing in Europe, there are clear deficiencies in the first-team: no goalscoring forward, a lack of quality in front of the back four and an inability to keep clean sheets.

Another left-back, a defensive midfielder and a strong and tall frontman to replace Peter Crouch and / or Roman Pavlyuchenko must all be on Redknapp's wishlist.

One solution to the first problem might have been to hand young full-back Kyle Walker an opportunity to deputise for injured Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Yet, Walker now finds himself behind Ciaran Clark in the pecking list at Aston Villa.

Other targets for these positions might include Taye Taiwo in defence, Lassana Diarra or Sulley Muntari in midfield and Ola Toivonen or Ricky Van Wolfswinkel in attack.

But it seems yet again that Spurs will fail to strengthen their team at a crucial time of the season.

While the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart can open up opposition defenders at will sometimes, there were worrying signs during Saturday's last-gasp draw at Newcastle that the team relies too heavily on the natural width that Bale offers and that there really is not one single goalkeeper on the books who is reliable and mistake-free.

The 3-1 destruction of Internazionale was breathtaking, the destruction of Werder Bremen and FC Twente on home soil was reassuring and the fightback in the San Siro was admirable but I fear that Spurs fans may want to savour what could be ephemeral moments in Europe's elite club competition.

The club is fast losing its financial ability to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the transfer market and Europe's elite are already circling over White Hart Lane like a pack of vultures, ready to prise away the club's biggest assets as fourth place slips away from Redknapp's grasp.