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What Will Spurs Do Up Front?

Tuesday 19th July 2011
As the transfer window wears on and the season approaches, the amount of strikers Tottenham have been linked with continues to grow and span all the corners of the footballing world. Giuseppe Rossi, Emmanuel Adebayor, Didier Drogba, Fernando Llorente, and a host of others have been mooted to make the switch to White Hart Lane. But so far the same main quintet remain as Harry Redknapp's options; Peter Crouch, Roman Pavluychenko, Jermaine Defoe, Robbie Keane, and Giovani Dos Santos are all still on Spurs's books, and each have been linked with moves away due to a lack of playing time. With the emergence of Rafael Van Der Vaart as a playmaker in a role just behind striker, Redknapp often preferred a 4-5-1 formation with Peter Crouch as the lone frontman, but the often varying displays from the giant Englishman.

Crouch started 20 of his 34 appearances made in the league, and also made 9 appearances in Spurs's Champions League run, 8 of which were starts. He managed 4 goals each in the league and in Europe, but frustrated fans with inconsistent form, and former club QPR, along with Sunderland and other top flight sides, are apparently after him. While Crouch may not be Drogba or Rooney, he does play his role well, and provided 9 assists in the league and Europe combined. He can still be of use, even if he doesn't remain first choice. Roman Pavluychenko, the subject of criticism for his seemingly lazy demeanor on the pitch, recently pledged his heart and love to Tottenham, despite previously saying he needed first team football whether at Spurs or somewhere else. The Russian has also been a headache, as it is clear he has rich amounts of talent, yet sometimes struggles to impose himself on games. But it was Pavluychenko who was 2nd on Tottenham's scoring charts in the league, hitting 9 goals (Van Der Vaart had 13), more than Defoe and Crouch combined. He added a further 3 in the Champions League in just 6 appearances. While perhaps not having the highest work-rate, it would seem the Russian has the most ability of the group, and still has a place in Redknapp's plans too.

Since the 2004/05 season, Jermaine Defoe had scored 10 plus goals in all but one campaign, when he hit 9 in 05/06. This past season saw injury problems limit the former Portsmouth hitman to just 28 appearances in all competitions, and although he did score 8 goals in total, he often found himself on the bench. He too has stated his desire to play more regularly to safeguard his England career, and has stated he would consider a move away from N17. At 28, Chairman Daniel Levy may see this as the best time to (again) sell Defoe, while he is still in his prime and commands a considerable fee. He would be the most likely of the first three discussed to move on. Robbie Keane and Gio Dos Santos have been particularly enigmatic for Spurs fans, with both experiencing huge success for their national teams, but failing to find the same form for their club. Whether this is down to lack of skill or lack of opportunity tends to divide opinion. Keane has scored 16 goals in just 23 appearances for Ireland in 2009, sparking a revival for Giovanni Trapattoni's side; but since his return to Spurs from Anfield, he has been sent on loan twice due to lack of first team chances under Redknapp. For the second half of last year he was loaned out to West Ham, and scored 2 goals in just 9 appearances, with injuries taking their toll. He played just 12 times for Spurs in all competitions last season, making only two starts, and scoring the lone goal off the bench against Arsenal in their 4-1 loss at White Hart Lane in the Carling Cup. With 51 international goals and a place in the top ten of the Premier League's all time scoring list, Keano remains one of Spurs's best performers in the Premier League era, but it seems his future is destined to be away from Tottenham. West Brom, Blackburn, Bolton, and Celtic have all been mentioned as possible destinations, and the player himself sees the need to leave Spurs lodge for the sake of his career. Though he may still be able to recover his old form, it seems Redknapp is done giving chances to the Irish all-time record goalscorer.

Dos Santos joined Tottenham from Barcelona, and was seen as a coup for the club, highly rated both at the Nou Camp and in his home country of Mexico. But three years later he has made just two starts in the Premier League, and took the pitch for Spurs just 4 times, only one as a start in the Carling Cup. His time with the club has seen him score just a solitary goal, in the Europa League more than 2 years ago. The Mexican has been farmed out to Ipswich (2009), Galatasaray (2010), and Racing Santander for the second half of this past season, where he did score 5 goals in 9 starts. His sublime chip against the United States in the Gold Cup final reminded the world of his potential, but he too looks almost certain to be out the door.

What, then, should Redknapp and Levy do? Whether or not Luka Modric completes his dream move to Stamford Bridge, the sale of at least 2 of these 5 would bring in money to fund another buy. Dos Santos may be loaned if the club have not fully given up on him yet, but Keane and Defoe's sales combined should earn at least 10m for the club's coffers. With Jamie O'Hara also now at Wolves for a 5m fee, and the potential sale of a few other players like David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, Alan Hutton, Niko Kranjcar, Wilson Palacios, Sebastien Bassong, and one of Huerelho Gomes or Carlo Cudicini considering the arrival of Brad Friedel, it seems most of the capital needed for a top striker could be made available even before the possible departure of Modric, as well as funds for other players in different areas. A legitimate threat to score 15 goals a season in the league, and also go up against Europe's best, would greatly increase Tottenham's threat to the rest of the league and their top six rivals. If Spurs are serious about again featuring in the Champions League, and even challenging for the title, a marquee new face must be brought in.
Andrew McCarten

Total articles: 10

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