Could Spurs draw a blank in transfer window and still trump Arsenal?
At the end of last season, Harry Redknapp predicted an epic recruitment race between the newly formed ‘top six’.
“They’re all going to have a go this year [in the transfer window], make no mistake. I talk to all the managers,” said the Spurs boss.
With that in mind, Redknapp has repeatedly urged his chairman, Daniel Levy, to match his rivals with a summer spending spree.
And yet, with two-thirds of the summer gone, free agent Brad Friedel is the only arrival who is likely to bolster the first-team squad.
Instead, the agenda has been utterly dominated by someone who wants to leave – Luka Modric.
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It is not what Spurs supporters had been hoping for and, as one fan has commented, “However you look at it, these stories about Modric are just thoroughly depressing for the fans.”
Well, perhaps. Spurs’ assistant manager Kevin Bond has a slightly different take on the issue.
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“It doesn’t surprise me that a number of clubs want to take Luka Modric, and quite possibly a number of our players,” said the assistant manager. “He is a fantastic footballer and it doesn’t surprise me that other teams want him.”
The message is that the need to hold onto talented players is simply a side-effect of having talented players – Better that than having a team full of players than no decent team would want.
That may not seem like a particularly bright silver lining, but further comfort can be taken from the fact that Spurs are certainly not alone in their plight this summer.
Consider Aston Villa, who have become the epitome of the ‘selling club’, losing Gareth Barry, James Milner, Friedel, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing to Manchester City, Spurs, Manchester United and Liverpool.
One club’s target is another club’s property and, while Tottenham are trying to keep Modric out of the grips of Chelsea, the same scenario is apparent at Arsenal.
The Gunners may have signed Gervinho this week but, like the Lilywhites, their main mission has become to hang on to players who are already at the club.
Rather like Levy, Arsene Wenger has announced: “We are not there to make money. We are there to keep our best players.”
Despite that, it is generally accepted that skipper Cesc Fabregas, who has more Premier League assists than any other player since August 2007, will finally join Barcelona if the Catalans meet a �40million valuation.
Meanwhile, the future of Samir Nasri is just as uncertain, with Roberto Mancini stating that he hopes to sign the Frenchman “before the end of the month”.
Their ‘crisis club’ tag may be a bit of an exaggeration but, having lost Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy to Man City, Gunners fans are sure to be concerned – and unlike Modric, Nasri is entering the final year of his contract.
At the same time, while Man City are flexing their financial muscles again, they could lose the services of their best player, Carlos Tevez, who is desperate to leave England.
Of course, the Argentine striker will be replaced by a global star, with Sergio Aguero the leading candidate. However, it will be almost impossible to fill Tevez’s boots at Eastlands.
The wantaway forward has netted 43 Premier League goals since joining Man City – and has scored or assisted 42 per cent of his side’s league goals over the last two seasons.
Given that Arsenal and Manchester City finished in the two spots directly above them, there is every reason for Spurs fans to take an interest in the proceedings at Arsenal and Man City.
Take a glance inside The Emirates in particular, and there are similar frustrations and fears – a lack of movement in vital areas, and also uncertainty over the future of central players.
The transfer window works both ways, and those who wish for a busy summer should be careful what they wish for – one imagines that Wenger is a lot busier than he would like at the moment.
Yes, Manchester United and Liverpool continue to splash the cash on familiar names, which only exaggerates Tottenham’s relative inactivity.
However, it is certainly worth debating how many of Liverpool’s signings would be welcome additions to Spurs’ first team.
And, elsewhere, if Fabregas, Nasri and Tevez all switch clubs before September, Arsenal and Man City are sure to be weaker – which will only strengthen Tottenham’s position.
While Redknapp stresses that ‘if you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards’, this transfer window may just undermine that view.
Suddenly, there is a lot to be said for simply standing still.
While there are clearly areas in the Tottenham team that need to be reinforced, success this summer may amount to holding onto your key players – and watching as your rivals lose theirs.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs