Tottenham Club Focus – Is Gary Cahill the best target for Spurs?

The Sunday Mirror has strongly linked Tottenham with making a January transfer move for Bolton defender Gary Cahill. Spurs were interested in signing the England international centre-back in August but were unwilling to meet the cash only valuation of around £13m, and the move eventually broke down on transfer deadline day. Daniel Levy reportedly offered to meet half of the valuation in cash with an offer of another player – maybe Vedran Corluka – to make the difference but was rejected by the Lancashire club. Manager Harry Redknapp has now stated that he would love to have Cahill at the club and hopes a transfer can be agreed in January.

The centre-back position at Spurs needs strengthening with injury-prone Jonathan Woodgate released, uncertainty as to how many games Ledley King will be able to play and William Gallas drawing to the end of his career. This would appear to leave Michael Dawson – when he recovers from injury – as first choice alongside the Frenchman or Tottenham legend, with Younes Kaboul or Sebastien Bassong as back up.

Redknapp appears to favour a future partnering of Cahill with Dawson in what only recently may have been a possible England pairing. The question is whether Cahill is the best target for Spurs or represents value for money. English players cost a premium because of the home grown quota rule, criteria currently only met defensively in the squad by King and Dawson – Kyle Walker does not have to meet the criteria because of his age.

Whilst Bolton have admittedly had a series of tough opening fixtures, the season has started poorly for the club and for Cahill. Defensively per game, in tackles (0.7), interceptions (1.8), clearances (7.7) and aerial duel success (59%), Cahill ranks below Dawson, King and Kaboul, who has perhaps been Spurs’ best central defender. Cahill also ranks below other rumoured Spurs targets, Brede Hangeland of Fulham, Alex of Chelsea and slightly behind Phil Jagielka of Everton. Both the Everton and Chelsea men ranked ahead of Cahill in these categories last season as did James Tomkins, playing in a poor West Ham team. Similarly, Hangeland ranked on a par with Cahill, but contributed more offensively with 6 goals and one assist.

Another question is whether Cahill fits Spurs’ style of play. On average, he completes only 23.2 passes a game, having just 77% pass accuracy. This has slightly improved from last season but again is considerably worse than the Premier League defenders mentioned, the exception being Jagielka.

Do Tottenham need Cahill? Potentially, they have another partner for Dawson on loan in a Swansea team, pre-season favourites for relegation. Steven Caulker has started brightly as have the Welsh team, conceding only nine goals [all away from home] this season. Apart from aerial duels, though this may be more a reflection on Swansea’s passing game, Caulker has performed better than Cahill. Also, with an average 58.5 passes per game and 86% pass accuracy, he appears comfortable on the ball and would arguably suit Spurs’ style of play better. If Caulker and Kaboul continue to progress Spurs might just save themselves some money.

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