Reality and rumours: Who’s on their way in and out of Tottenham in January?
IT IS hard to remember a quiet transfer window at Tottenham and, as we enter January, noises from inside the club (well, Harry Redknapp) suggest that Spurs are gearing up for a major recruitment drive.
The Spurs boss has seemingly been eyeing the January transfer window ever since the last one closed in August and, following the 3-2 win over Arsenal in October, he announced: “The title is there for someone to pull off a surprise. I am looking to buy in January. We need to tweak it to finish it off.”
Now Redknapp says that the club’s owner “would like me to go and spend his money and buy somebody who could make the difference.”
There is little doubt that Spurs go into the new year with bigger ambitions than they have had for many years.
There is all to play for, particularly given the relative weakness of Manchester United, Chelsea and particularly Liverpool these days, presenting a tantalising opportunity to make a big move and seal the signings that could upset the long-established hierarchy even futher.
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SO WHO’S COMING IN?
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AN UNGLAMOROUS place to start, perhaps, but it would be very curious if Redknapp declines to sign cover for Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who has started 27 of Spurs’ 29 games this season.
Gareth Bale used to be the reserve in that role but his move into midfield, and the starting line-up, has left Tottenham without a back-up.
Spurs have seven centre-backs and four right-backs on their books, including Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton.
Redknapp may yet make it five if Liverpool’s Glen Johnson becomes available, but that would be a luxury. A left-back is surely a necessity.
SPURS are obviously keen to sign David Beckham on loan, and they are also keeping a careful eye on Steven Pienaar’s situation at Everton.
The South Africa international is out of contract in the summer and is believed to favour a move to Tottenham this year – it is just a question of when, and the Toffees may cash in for around �1.5million this month.
Redknapp effectively admitted his interest this week: “He still belongs to Everton, so it’s a difficult one. We’ll wait and see what happens,” he said.
Whether Pienaar arrives this month or not, Spurs are still short in the centre of midfield, particularly with Tom Huddlestone out of action.
Jermaine Jenas is arguably too adventurous to occupy the holding midfield role alongside Luka Modric, Wilson Palacios is a frighteningly inconsistent liability and Sandro is new to the English game.
Redknapp foresaw these issues, hence the bid for Scott Parker in the summer. West Ham are expecting another approach but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is unlikely to sanction a big bid for a 30-year-old.
Meanwhile, the Irons’ chairmen will know that selling their talismanic captain would be a big step towards relegation, so a deal is very unlikely.
There is no doubt that Redknapp plans to add a big name to his forward line in January, particularly when he has a tactical dilemma to solve.
Rafael van der Vaart is most effective in a 4-4-1-1 formation but Jermain Defoe is too small to hold the ball up, Peter Crouch is too slow to play up front alone and Roman Pavlyuchenko can be frustratingly lazy.
Spurs were interested in Luis Fabiano and Luis Suarez in the summer but Redknapp tends to prefer proven Premier League players, especially English ones – like Andy Carroll.
The Newcastle forward is strong and quick, and he has so far scored 11 times in his first season in the top flight.
At 21 years old, he is also exactly the type of signing that Levy would sanction, and precisely the kind of player that Spurs have a history of buying. In fact, Spurs have reportedly already had an initial approach for Newcastle’s No9 knocked back this week.
AND WHO’S ON THE WAY OUT?
REDKNAPP this week confirmed that Robbie Keane and David Bentley are top of the list of likely departures. Keane is said to be in talks with Birmingham City this week, while Blackburn Rovers may be interested in re-signing David Bentley.
Should he win his battle to return to full fitness after more than a year out, Jonathan Woodgate is aiming to go on loan to a Championship team for the second half of the season – Cardiff are known to be keen and the 30-year-old has previously played for both Leeds and Middlesbrough.
Niko Kranjcar is consistently being linked with a move away from the Lane but that would be surprising, given that he is currently the only back-up for Bale on the left flank.
The Croatian was one of Tottenham’s best players last season and, if he is frustrated by his lack of action, he is certainly not showing it – the 26-year-old was enthusiastically applauding Spurs’ best moves against Fulham from the bench on Saturday.
Redknapp also stated on Tuesday that he is loath to lose the midfielder: “I wouldn’t want Niko to go,” he said. “He’s been so unlucky. Niko came in last year and he was one of the signings of the season.”
Another player who is constantly rumoured to be on the way out is Peter Crouch, who is allegedly being offered as a makeweight in any number of deals, having also been linked with Liverpool in the summer.
Again, it is highly unlikely that the 6ft 7ins striker will depart. The England striker has appeared in all but five of Spurs’ games since his arrival last summer, he scored the pivotal goal at Eastlands that took Spurs into the Champions League, and has weighed in with six goals in Europe since then.
He is also a selflessly important presence in his own box when it comes to defending set pieces, or hanging onto narrow leads.