Isnin, 12 Disember 2011

Three positions in which Spurs lack significant quality in reserve

The centre-back

Ledley King's presence in the starting lineup for most of Tottenham's Premier League fixtures this season has given the club an enormous boost, and while Spurs were without their captain in a victory over Bolton, the Europa League defeat to PAOK suggests the club may still be lacking cover of the highest calibre, especially with Michael Dawson still recovering from long-term injury.

Against the Greek side, without King and Younes Kaboul, Sebastien Bassong and William Gallas got off to a sluggish start at the heart of the defence as the hosts conceded twice in the opening 15 minutes.

Bassong has fallen down the pecking order since the resurgence of Kaboul in his second spell at the club and the arrival of Gallas and is likely to leave in January, but the former Gunner has struggled with injury this season and, at 34 years old, his time at the club is surely limited, while King's troublesome knee could still limit his impact during the final year of his current contract.

Possible transfer targets

Spurs emerged as suitors for Bolton defender Gary Cahill towards the end of the summer transfer window, but had a deadline day move for the player rejected.

However, it is unlikely Harry Redknapp will return for the England international, who is approaching the end of his deal at the Reebok Stadium and could opt for a move to Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Ajax centre-back Jan Vertonghen is understood to have emerged as Tottenham's top target. The Belgian international is contracted to the Dutch club until 2013, but is expected to leave in January or the following summer, and would be a considerable improvement on Spurs' current options at the back.

Vertonghen could be available for around £10m, while Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels is also understood to be considered an option by Spurs, though the German champions would surely be reluctant to lose one of their most important players halfway through a season.

Redknapp also refused to rule out a move for Chelsea defender Alex, who is sure to leave Stamford Bridge in January after having a transfer request accepted, though the Spurs boss was adamant no enquiries for the Brazilian had been made.

The midfield maestro

Tottenham's forward play has garnered plenty of attention in recent weeks, but none of their scintillating style would be possible without a central midfield base formed of Scott Parker and Luka Modric.

While Spurs have cover for Parker in the shape of Sandro who, were it not for the form of the former West Ham star, would surely be a regular feature in the starting XI, a player of Modric's calibre - or even close to it - is lacking, especially when considering the continued recovery from injury of Tom Huddlestone, a player with an excellent range for a pass but who is decidedly less mobile in comparison.

The hosts survived an early scare against West Brom without Modric - and Rafael van der Vaart - but are a dramatically improved team with the 26-year-old involved.

Possible transfer targets

How do you replace the irreplaceable? Tottenham's reluctance to sell Modric to Chelsea in the summer - for what could have been as much as £35m - indicated just how important the midfielder is to the club. A long-term injury to the Croatian could be immeasurably damaging for Spurs.

Tottenham fans should be familiar with Marko Marin, the Werder Bremen star who led his side's comeback to a 2-2 draw in Spurs' debut in the Champions League group stages last season. The playmaker, who is similar in stature to Modric, would perhaps be tempted by a move to England and the possibility of Champions League football again, as Bremen stutter somewhat in fifth place of the Bundesliga.

Kwadwo Asamoah has impressed once again this season, as Udinese look set to challenge for a top four place in Serie A, and the Ghanaian has been reportedly tracked by a number of clubs in England.

In a more advanced role, Stevan Jovetic has made a blistering start with Fiorentina this campaign, scoring six goals for the club, most recently helping them to victory over Roma.

The striker

So far this season, Emmanuel Adebayor has offered Tottenham something they struggled for last season. Not only has the striker netted seven times since his loan move from Manchester City, but he has also proved a willing runner and tireless worker, able to swap positions with other attacking threats in the Spurs frontline.

But Adebayor may prove to be only a short-term solution to a long-term problem for Redknapp, as his wages are likely to prevent him from making a permanent switch to White Hart Lane, while Spurs have no similar player to come off the bench - something the club must surely address, especially with the departure of Roman Pavlyuchenko looking imminent.

Jermain Defoe has looked sharp, and vastly improved in comparison to an injury-hit 2010-11 season, but the striker does not fit what has become Redknapp's favoured system as well as the Togolese does. Fielding Defoe and Adebayor in tandem - as was the case in the 3-0 victory over 10-man Bolton - means losing one of Van der Vaart or Aaron Lennon, who have both played important parts in Tottenham's continued excellent run.

Possible transfer targets

While Redknapp has been a public admirer of Giuseppe Rossi, and links with Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente persist, moves for either player in January are unlikely, as the Villarreal striker is injured, while the Spain international is flourishing under Marcelo Bielsa.

Instead, rumours of a January move for Amauri, who has found himself out of favour at Juventus under coach Antonio Conte, will not go away. Whether Spurs will pursue their apparent interest in the Brazil-born forward, who finished last season with seven goals in 10 games in a flourish on loan at Parma, remains to be seen.

Also at Juventus, Fabio Quagliarella has found himself down the pecking order after injury and, despite having a penchant for the sublime, could be available in January.

In Germany, Freiburg's Papiss Demba Cisse has followed up last season's 22-goal Bundesliga haul with another nine already during this campaign and looks set for a move to England with a host of Premier League sides ready to make a bid.


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