Spurs Review of the Year Part VII: Tall order up front?

JULY   Sevilla seemed to have pulled the plug on their move for Dider Zokora, with the Spanish club s president bemoaning Tottenham's valuation of the midfielder. The distance between what they asked...


Sevilla seemed to have pulled the plug on their move for Dider Zokora, with the Spanish club's president bemoaning Tottenham's valuation of the midfielder.

"The distance between what they asked and what we are willing to offer was so great that we left it there," said Jose Maria del Nido.

Meanwhile, Spurs' Adel Taarabt was also incensed at Tottenham's apparent greed, blaming Harry Redknapp for blocking his proposed loan spell with Malaga.

"Spurs' president agreed the transfer, but the problem is Harry," said Taarabt. "The manager has said that if I want to leave then it has to be a permanent transfer. I said there are clubs who that want me, but you're asking for �5million or �6m when you could sell me for �3m. I want to leave."

Taarabt later joined Queen's Park Rangers on loan, and is still at Loftus Road now.

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He may have had his own problems at Tottenham, but Redknapp had half an eye on developments at Manchester City, as Mark Hughes' outfit continued to pilfer some of the best Premier League talent from rival top-flight clubs.

"They are working on another level with the wages they can offer," said Redknapp. "We liked Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz but when it came to it we just weren't at the races."

City's summer spending spree certainly seemed to concern the Spurs boss. Having announced his intention to take on the Big Four just weeks earlier, Redknapp suddenly seemed to lower his sights and target the 'top six'.

"We've already got a decent squad, many of whom are going to get better, but we recognise we have to improve the away results next season," he said. "If we can do that we can push to finish in the top six. That has to be our aim and I believe we can achieve it."

After weeks of negotiations with Sevilla, Spurs finally agreed to sell Didier Zokora to the La Liga outfit, banking a cool �8.5m -slightly more than they paid for him three years previously.

It was an excellent piece of business for Tottenham, as the Ivory Coast midfielder had fallen out of favour with Redknapp, and had become little more than a fringe player.

The Lilywhites also bade farewell to Chris Gunter, who moved to Nottingham Forest for �2.75m.

Despite all the rumours surrounding possible recruits, Spurs arrived in mid-July without making a signing. And, when Redknapp finally asked chairman Daniel Levy to open his chequebook, the fans were more than a little confused by the result.

All the talk had been about an experienced striker, with Klass-Jan Huntelaar particularly high on Redknapp's wish-list, but instead the Spurs boss moved for two young full-backs - Sheffield United's Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker.

Walker, a left-back was immediately loaned back to Sheffield, but Naughton arrived at Spurs Lodge as one of four right-backs - Redknapp already had Vedran Corluka, Alan Hutton and Pascal Chimbonda.

Chimbonda left for Blackburn the following month in a �2m deal, but the reasoning behind Naughton's signing is still unclear - the 21-year-old has made just two appearances so far, and has only started in the second round of the Carling Cup, away at Doncaster.

Naughton appeared in the second half against Barcelona as Spurs took part in the inaugural Wembley Cup, drawing 1-1 with the Champions League winners before losing 2-0 against Celtic the following day.

The Lilywhites had already enjoyed pre-season victories over Exeter City, Bournemouth and Peterborough, scoring 10 goals across the three games and keeping clean sheets on each occasion.

It wasn't long before Redknapp refocused on his desire for a new striker, and his number one target soon became clear.

The boss admitted that he had been eyeing both Huntelaar and Crouch - "you have two balls in the air and you just see which one drops" - but he quickly closed in on Crouch when it became clear that the England forward was up for grabs.

With Portsmouth struggling financially, manager Paul Hart was forced to admit: "I think Peter will leave. Everybody wants to keep their best players but we have to be realistic."

Within hours Redknapp responded through the media: "Crouchy, I have signed several times, and if Portsmouth want to sell we could be interested.

"It depends on everything about price etcetera, but everyone has their price and it would be up to the chairman and Portsmouth to sort out a price. I love Crouchy but we will have to wait and see."

That seemed to be all the encouragement that Crouch needed.

The 6ft 7ins frontman had been in talks with Sunderland, but Redknapp's public interest immediately turned his head.

Crouch suddenly broke off his talks with the Black Cats, and signed for Tottenham instead in a �9m switch - re-joining for the club where he had started his career as a trainee, and linking up with Redknapp for the third time after previous spells at Southampton and Portsmouth.

Crouch's return seemed to spell the end of Darren Bent's stay at White Hart Lane. The wantaway forward had resigned himself to a trip to China as part of Tottenham's pre-season preparations, but dramatically got off the plane at the last minute to begin talks with Sunderland.

Spurs met familiar opponents during their spell in China, beating West Ham 1-0 and then thumping Hull City 3-0 - just three weeks before they were due to face the same opponents in the Premier League.