Tottenham Club Focus – Should Steven Caulker be a Spur or a Swan next season?

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers has expressed an interest in signing Tottenham Hotspur’s Steven Caulker on loan for another season, forcing Spurs into a decision on the future of the young defender.

Rodgers told Sky Sports: “I spoke to Harry at length and just generally he understands Steven has had a fantastic season and it will be between now and the end of the season before they determine where he will go, it will depend on the club and where they are at.”

Caulker himself has stated that he would be happy to return to White Hart Lane, if he could be assured first team football, otherwise he would prefer to move to a team that would. Caulker has had a fine season with The Swans, establishing himself as the regular centre back partner alongside Ashley Williams. He has made 19 league appearances for Swansea and his time there appears to have been beneficial for his development. Their style has been complimented for the passing game and the team has, particularly for debutants in the Premier League, been defensively solid, especially at the Liberty Stadium. Caulker’s contribution has been impressive with his defensive statistics bearing comparison with all of Spurs’ centre backs – the exception being Younes Kaboul. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering Spurs’ and Swansea’s style of play, Caulker’s passing accuracy is equally impressive, having completed 965 of his 1122 attempted passes.

Should Caulker go back on loan to Swansea next season? There is perhaps a very strong argument against this. Spurs have three centre backs in their 30’s – William Gallas [34], Ryan Nelsen [34] and of course Spurs legend – Ledley King [31]. All are injury prone and whilst Ledley King has maybe surprised with the number of games he has managed this season, there will be a sad point when his injured knees will no longer cope. Maybe this is one reason why Nelsen arrived, to bring that extra experience to the squad for when King is unavailable.

As to the other centre backs, Michael Dawson has had a couple of injury ravaged seasons but is an experienced and whole hearted defender when fit, whilst Kaboul has grown in stature this season and should be considered first choice. However, it may be no surprise to see Sebastien Bassong and Bongani Khumalo depart in the summer. With age, injuries [and periodic suspensions] likely to influence availability, the prospect of having a first-class, young centre back, with a Premier League season as a first choice behind him, may be too good to turn down.

There have been strong rumours linking Spurs with other centre backs such as Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen, reported by the Daily Mail here. A good player, if signed he would undoubtedly start. Where would this leave Caulker? Vertonghen at 24 years old may be at Spurs for years, forcing Caulker to leave and Spurs to lose a player reputed to be the next..[a horrible phrase] Ledley King. Is that worth the signing of the Belgian – probably not. Assuming King, Gallas, Nelsen, Dawson and Kaboul are all at Spurs next season, signing Vertonghen [or similar] would mean Spurs naming six centre backs in their 25 man roster – surely a disproportionate number. Caulker would still meet the U-21 category freeing up a valuable space on the roster. Perhaps more importantly why spend a large fee on a centre back, when Spurs already have such a good one due back from loan. The funds could be used in other areas.

Maybe the way forward is for Spurs to look to signing young players like Julian Velazquez, Kurt Zouma, Wily Boly or Bruno Uvini for the future. To gradually bring these players in to replace others when they retire or leave, with Dawson and Kaboul becoming the senior defenders. That may be for the future. Steven Caulker is arguably for the here and now.

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