Another English Premier League season is in the books, which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite offseason activity: speculation! As we know, silly season will soon officially be upon us as clubs from all over the world attempt to improve their squad for the upcoming campaigna��whether through addition by subtraction or the more conventional route: spending that sweet, sweet Premier League money.
Over the next couple months we’ll go through each EPL side, identifying their strengths and weaknesses while pointing out which player(s) they likely cannot afford to lose. Will the names always be notable? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
I’ve already spoken at length over their collapse down the stretch, so it’s time to move on. The other club from North London is in the Champions League for the first time since 2010-11, and that’s great. Still, this is not the time to be complacent. Tottenham have plenty of work to do.
The youthful revolution and strong mentalitya��Newcastle away being the exceptiona��instilled by Mauricio Pochettino over the past two seasons has been strong, even if season-to-season point totals have not reflected it. Under AndrA� Villas-Boas in 2012-13, Tottenham set a club record with 72 points. That should have been topped this season, but, well…
Then came the summer sale of Gareth Bale and the overwhelming amount of players that transaction bought. Of the seven, only Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, and Nacer Chadli remain. For a while, it looked as though Eriksen would be the only worthy player of the bunch. AVB was sacked that season and in came the inexperienced Tim Sherwood. Spurs finished sixth on 69 points under his guidance before he was relieved of his duties in favor of Pochettino.
Tottenham’s first season under the Argentine saw a fifth-place finisha��one spot higher than the previous yeara��but a dip in overall points accumulated (64). They did manage to reach the Capital One Cup final, where they were easily dispatched 2-0 by Chelsea, and here we are now. For the second half of 2015-16, Tottenham looked like the second-best club in the league. Despite their collapse down the stretch, it could be seen as one of their better years in recent history.
They have a manager that isn’t going anywhere, stars that want to stay, and Champions League football to participate in. That also means they have money to spend, whether chairman Daniel Levy wants to admit it or not. So now what?
Yes, Another Striker
Daniel, look at me. You have the money. Stop this foolishness and spend some of it. That doesn’t mean buy seven players. No, that was short-sighted and ridiculous. What is this, FIFA or Football Manager? Come on. How could you have possibly signed off on that? Oh wait, because all of that money was from Bale’s sale, not you. Carry on then.
But seriously, buy a striker. Probably buy two, actually. Tottenham needed one at the beginning of last season, they really could have added one in winter, and now there’s no more time for excusesa��including the whole ‘we’re building a stadium’ rhetoric. You have the money. The new EPL television deal, Champions League football, no otherworldly wages throughout the squad. Hell, Aston Villa were relegated and received over A?100 million.
So stop. Harry Kane is great. Anyone who can score 20-plus goals in two consecutive years in the Premier League (and he’s only 22) is great. That said, he can’t do it alone, and you cannot count on him to not miss a single match (or close to it) every single season. He made 53 appearances in all competitions this year, which included starting every EPL match. He’s one of England’s strikers now, and he’ll be starting at the Euro over summer.
If you don’t invest in A) a backup, and B) an additional striker to possibly play up top with him, this club will run him into the ground. It’s time to open up the checkbook, Mr. Levy.
Holding the Fort
Outside of additional striker help, adding quality depth in the defensive areas, particularly at the center back and holding midfield positions, is crucial. When I spoke about Leicester City earlier this week, we looked at how important N’Golo KantA� was to the champions as well as Mousa DembA�lA�’s importance to Tottenham. DembA�lA� will be suspended for the first six matches of the 2016-17 Premier League season for acting stupidly and gouging another human being’s eye.
Eric Dier, their other holding mid, is great. His tackles are crunching, if not worrisome at times, and he seems to have the makeup of a future captain. If not for the club, then perhaps England. But when Tom Carroll or Ryan Mason were placed next to him, Dier stretched himself to do the work of two. Predictably, that didn’t go so well.
They should look into that whole KantA� release clause situation. If that doesn’t pan out, give Southampton another call, this time about Victor Wanyama. It’s rumored he wants to leave, and hey, this source even seems semi-reliable. I wouldn’t sell Nabil Bentaleb, either. It was a funky year for the Algerian, but there’s promise there. He’s better than Mason, significantly less injury-prone, and we’ve already seen what he can do.
I believe a reunion with Michael Carrick on a free transfer would be a shrewd deal, and he could certainly play in the six matches DembA�lA� will missa��or at the very least, rotate in. He’s not an every-match player anymore, but there’s value to be had from an experience standpoint.
Elsewhere, will Tottenham think about playing Kevin Wimmer over Jan Vertonghen more? Doubtful, but perhaps they should. Regardless, bringing in another center back is crucial as well. Tottenham only truly had three first-team talents in that regard between Vertonghen, Wimmer, and Toby Alderweireld. Yes Dier can cover at CB, but he’s much better where he is now. The squad was already stretched pretty thin this season; one injury to any of these players could derail it entirely.
Would they be interested in giving Chelsea a call regarding Matt Miazga? We know how new Blues boss Antonio Conte feels about the MLS. Then again, Miazga isn’t someone you invest in ahead of a UCL campaign. It’s time for Spurs to aim higher.
This Tottenham Hotspur team is good, the youngest in the league, and pretty well disciplined. There is quality at every position, but after their best XI, it can begin to unravel. Plus, you never know if things will line up for them the way they did this campaign. That, and look at all the changes happening already: Conte to Chelsea, JosA� Mourinho to United, Pep Guardiola to City. A full season of Klopp. It’s madness.
Daniel Levy, Mauricio Pochettino, and Tottenham Hotspur have to get this summer very right if we’re going to take their UCL presence seriously. Gone are the days of buying players just for the sake of buying them, but supporters will hope that doesn’t mean another penny-pinching, profit-turning season is all that matters.
Under Levy, that has often been the case. But now? There’s no excuse for not spending, for not strengthening the squad. Sell Mason, maybe sell Chadli as well. But it’s time to add quality and depth so Tottenham doesn’t go back to being Tottenham again.
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