The announcement that Luka Modric would be remaining at Tottenham Hotspur brought a premature end to what threatened to be one of the summer’s longest-running transfer sagas. If the week’s discussions are the end of the rumours linking the Croatian with Chelsea, and the gossip does not rear its head again and morph into something more solid before the end of August, then Harry Redknapp has retained a key building block in his side as he attempts to bring Champions League football back to White Hart Lane.
A season that saw highs of Champions League victories over both Milan sides ended with the low of missing out to Manchester City on fourth place, a result of scoring 12 fewer goals and conceding six more than the year before. In the space of 12 months – with roughly the same number of games played – Tottenham’s strike force became more anaemic and their defence more porous, and these are the deficiencies Redknapp is seeking to correct this summer. Espanyol striker Pablo Osvaldo, Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan, Villarreal’s former Manchester United forward Giuseppe Rossi are amongst the names linked to Spurs to re-enforce the forward line. At the other end of the pitch, Brad Friedel has arrived on a free transfer from Aston Villa to provide competition from Heurelho Gomes in goal, while Gary Cahill, the Bolton Wanderers centre-back, has been a consistent presence in the gossip columns. Scott Parker and Lassana Diarra, battling central midfielders currently with West Ham United and Real Madrid, have also been mentioned if Redknapp chooses to stiffen his midfield.
Additions may be desired at Tottenham – indeed, required – but equally as important is keeping hold of the likes of Modric and Gareth Bale. Modric, as referenced earlier, has been high on Chelsea’s shopping list all summer, as well as attracting glances from Manchester United, as both sides search for a playmaker. Bale, after storming to prominence by twice dismantling Inter’s Maicon last season, is reportedly wanted by Inter, as well as Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona abroad and Manchester United at home. It has been suggested that should Modric be allowed to cross London to Chelsea, Bale, feeling Spurs will struggle to match his ambitions if key players depart, will follow suit, increasing the importance of Modric still being a Tottenham player at the close of the transfer window. Redknapp has described Modric’s mood as: “…happy…but
There are certain to be outgoings, however. Robbie Keane is well-known to be available after spending the second half of last season on loan at doomed West Ham, while Peter Crouch (Sunderland) and Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) have each been linked with a move elsewhere, although the Crouch-to-Sunderland story seems less likely given the Black Cats’ purchase of Connor Wickham. Selling Keane, Crouch and Hutton would give Redknapp both the space in his squad and, more importantly, the finances to overhaul in the way he appears to desire, particularly given the Daily Mirror’s assertion that the manager must generate some income before bringing in new faces. The same newspaper also speculates that this is the reason Villa have moved ahead of Spurs in the pursuit of Parker, despite the player preferring to remain in London. If Parker was to swap the Hammers for Spurs, Wilson Palacios would likely be allowed to leave with a number of Serie A clubs watching the Honduras international. Meanwhile, Roman Pavlyuchenko has persistently been linked with a return to Russia, Niko Kranjcar is wanted by Fiorentina and David Bentley and Giovani dos Santos are surplus to requirements.
If Redknapp does strengthen in the areas he deems necessary, and Bale and Modric resist the temptation to move on, Tottenham will be well placed to chase down Manchester City and regain fourth place next season. With City again splashing the cash – albeit in what, for them, is a more restrained manner – Tottenham will have to invest wisely to close the gap. A new centre-back, perhaps some steel in midfield to compliment the silk of Modric and Tom Huddlestone, and a centre-forward to link up with Rafael van der Vaart on a regular basis are the three areas Redknapp has identified as most pressing, but given the sell-before-you-buy stance reportedly imposed, shifting some of the unwanted squad members is a task as important as it is difficult. But more important still is retaining Bale and Modric.
Brad Friedel GK – Aston Villa, free
Jonathan Woodgate DEF – released
Steven Caulker DEF – Swansea City, loan
Pablo Osvaldo FWD – Espanyol
Souleymane Coulibaly FWD – Siena
Giuseppe Rossi FWD – Villarreal
Gary Cahill DEF – Bolton Wanderers
Scott Parker MID – West Ham United
Lassana Diarra MID – Real Madrid