Ten could leave Spurs as club plan for September’s 25-man squad
11:15 25 May 2011
PA Wire/Press Association Images
The reaction to Daniel Levy’s open letter over the weekend understandably focused on the chairman’s insistence that Spurs “shall simply not entertain any approaches” for key players like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.
However, that certainly does not mean that the exit door will be jammed shut this summer – quite the opposite in fact.
Levy went on: “We do, however, have one of the largest squads in the Premier League and, given the 25-man squad rule, it is no longer practical to retain players who are unlikely to qualify within that limit.”
That statement is likely to preclude a mass clear-out this summer, which will be closer to a cull than the “streamlining” which has previously been suggested.
The current roster of senior players who were listed in the last squad, plus those who would hope to be included in the next one on September 1, has now reached 32.
That number does not include Steven Caulker and Jake Livermore, who played in the Carling Cup this season, or the likes of John Bostock and Andros Townsend, since few would expect them to replace first-team players at this stage.
However, room in the 25-man roster must now be made for both Gareth Bale and Sandro, who have not been listed before because they were ‘aged 21 and under’ – but not any more, as of September 1.
On the up side, 20-year-old full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker can supplement the official roster next season due to their youth.
But that still leaves Spurs with SEVEN more players than spaces – and that is before the big-name signings that Harry Redknapp has been campaigning for for much of the season.
Factor in three new arrivals and, if Spurs are aiming to trim their first-team squad down to the bare 25 (or 27 with Rose and Walker), there will need to be no less than 10 departures this summer.
So, where to start? Firstly, it becomes very clear why Redknapp has hinted that Jonathan Woodgate will not get a new deal.
Fans may question why the Lilywhites would allow him to leave and pick up a very viable ‘pay per play’ deal elsewhere.
The answer is nothing to do with money but, instead, the fact that Woodgate’s history with injuries makes it virtually impossible to hand him a valuable spot in the 25-man squad.
The exorbitantly bloated nature of the squad also explains why Niko Kranjcar and Sebastien Bassong – two proven top-flight players who played major roles in taking Spurs into the top four last season – are being pushed through the exit door.
It is, of course, no secret that Tottenham are desperately hoping to sell their senior loanees this summer – David Bentley, Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos and Jamie O’Hara.
Giovani’s performances at last summer’s World Cup may help to recoup most of his £4.7million fee, while O’Hara looks set to join Wolves this week.
However, Levy may find it rather harder to shift Keane and Bentley, who cost a combined £27m between July 2008 and January 2009.
This season they have failed to hold down first-team places in teams who have both been relegated – West Ham and Birmingham respectively – making them the very essence of a ‘hard sell’.
Bentley even failed to make it into the Blues’ 18-man squad for a recent clash with Wolves, and consequently stormed out of the ground – a petulant reaction which is sure to alienate any managers of mid-table teams who were considering a gamble on the former Arsenal and Blackburn man.
Elsewhere, Redknapp is sure to address the fact that he named four goalkeepers in his last squad, particularly when Stipe Pletikosa and Ben Alnwick’s combined appearances this season add up to... one.
The Spurs boss also has a surplus of right-backs, and Walker will be vying for the first-team spot with Vedran Corluka and Alan Hutton next season, while Younes Kaboul has also filled that role on a number of occasions.
It is likely to be the Scotsman, Hutton, who is ushered out of White Hart Lane, since Walker is a similarly attack-minded full-back.
Corluka provides a more defensive, physical option, which Redknapp likes to utilise against the likes of Stoke and Blackburn.
The former Manchester City man has the added attraction of being Modric’s best friend – an advantage which was underlined last week when Modric’s reasons for his happiness at Spurs included “there are Croatians here”.
Given that two of his valued countrymen are Kranjcar and Pletikosa – whose futures are questionable to say the least – Corluka’s presence has become an important factor.
Of course, it is unlikely that Tottenham will successfully flog all of their unwanted players, so Kyle Naughton could be loaned out again – or sold – and January signing Khumalo Bongani is likely to return to the Championship next season, after a loan spell at Preston this campaign was cut short by injury.
With the possible exception of Kranjcar, Bassong and Hutton, few of the players mentioned in this list would be missed next season – but a number of regular first-team players may also be available for the right price.
Wilson Palacios has effectively been usurped by Sandro, Jermaine Jenas will be concerned by any bids for central midfielders (like Scott Parker) and Redknapp is thought to be targeting a right winger as well as a striker.
That could have an impact for the likes of Aaron Lennon, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko.
The Spurs squad could look very different in September but one thing is for sure – it will be certainly be smaller.
The current Spurs squad:
Non home-grown (16): Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Vedran Corluka, Carlo Cudicini, Giovani Dos Santos, Heurelho Gomes, William Gallas, Younes Kaboul, Bongani Khumalo, Niko Kranjcar, Luka Modric, Wilson Palacios, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Steven Pienaar, Stipe Pletikosa, Sandro (aged 22 on Sept 1), Rafael van der Vaart.
Home-grown (14): Ben Alnwick, Gareth Bale (aged 22 on Sept 1), David Bentley, Peter Crouch, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Robbie Keane, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Naughton, Jamie O’Hara, Jonathan Woodgate.
Aged 21 and under (on September 1): Danny Rose, Kyle Walker