As explained in the “about” page, I’m a Tottenham fan so occasionally there will be a “Tottenham-focus”. Like right now. Let’s take a peek at the top ten rumours surrounding players coming-and-going from White Hart Lane.
Heading for the exit?
Younes Kaboul (to Portsmouth, £6m)
Kaboul became the fall guy last season – and with good reason. Some of his defending was park-football level. He started the season alongside Michael Dawson but rarely got a look-in after Juande Ramos signed Jonathan Woodgate. His best moment was the last minute goal that gained Spurs an incredible 4-4 draw at White Hart Lane against Aston Villa.
Let him go? No. Kaboul has the characteristics to be a top-class player. He’s young, athletic and determined. If he’s not going to be in the frame this season then by all means let him develop on loan somewhere else for 12 months.
Transfer Likelihood: 6/10
Aaron Lennon (to Newcastle, £10m; to Blackburn, part-exchange)
Lennon’s incredible 2005/6 season is a distant memory after two indifferent years recently. At just 21 he could be the latest in a line of promising players not to reach their potential. But after being linked as a makeweight in several deals, Ramos has moved to deny his desire to sell Lennon.
Let him go? Hmm, I’d lean towards saying “no” on this occasion. Lennon’s performances were dismal last year with a seeming inability to beat players or get decent crosses in on anything that resembles regularity. But at 21 he’s still in his development phase and let’s see what Ramos and his coaching team can get out of him. He’s too far along for a loan deal – if he’s going to do it let’s see if he can do it at White Hart Lane.
Transfer Likelihood: 7/10
Dimitar Berbatov (to Manchester United, £25m)
Berbatov is one of those rare talents. He has outrageous skill, a footballing brain and the ability to bring the best out of those around him. He also has the ability to sulk as well – something he’s done frequently on the pitch in the last two years. Tottenham took a big-money punt on him two years ago and it paid off. Since then he’s been linked with a move to Manchester United as the heir to Eric Cantona.
Let him go? This really depends on Berbs himself. His agent has been stirring in the media and occasionally Berbatov has come out and said he’s happy to get on with being a Spurs player and all that fan-freindly stuff. Deep-down he fancies playing in the Champions League and you couldn’t blame him for that. But Spurs are dead-right to hold out for the big money. Manchester United spent £30m on Rio Ferdinand six years ago. A £25m fee for Berbatov is not unreasonable in today’s currency.
Robbie Keane (to Liverpool, £15m)
After being something of a vagabond in his early career (four clubs in the first five years), Keane has spent six years at Tottenham and it was thought he would finish his career at the Lane. But Rafa Benitez wants a Premiership striker who scores goals and has dropped hints to his friends in the media that he’s after Keane.
Let him go? I’ve covered this in previous columns but the reason I thought Robbie would never leave Spurs is because he’s technically at the perfect club: at 28 (tomorrow) he’s likely to spend the next 3-4 seasons in and around the first team and there is little motivation for him to move sideways to play for another UEFA Cup-chasing team. But you also figure that he’s not quite good enough for the top four and so there is little likelihood that one of them will come knocking for him. Enter Rafa Benitez with his odd recruitment policy (Pennant, Crouch, Barry, Bellamy).
I don’t feel Spurs should let him go unless they can squeeze £15m+ and have a replacement lined up. Robbie has done a great job for Spurs but he will get more games here and has an outside chance of Champions League football before he retires. However I do know he’s a lifelong Liverpool fan and would not really begrudge him the move once it’s in the club’s interest.
Michael Dawson (to Newcastle, £4m)
Transfer history between Tottenham and Newcastle is often intertwined. In recent years Spurs have blown many millions on the likes of Les Ferdinand, Ruel Fox and Jermaine Jenas. In return Spurs let Newcastle have Steve Carr to stink out the right-back position for a few years. Damien Duff chose Newcastle ahead of Tottenham a few seasons ago (and given how the Irish winger’s career has nosedived since his outstanding career at Chelsea it’s something of a relief) while Luka Modric and Jonathan Woodgate chose Tottenham ahead of Newcastle, allegedly for less money.
The clubs often sniff around for the same talent and the latest players linked with a move between St James Park and White Hart Lane are Dawson and Lennon.
Should he go? Absolutely not. Dawson may struggle without Ledly King by his side but he showed enough promise in his early seasons to indicate that he’s got the ability to become a very solid center-back. At 24 he probably needs to find his groove in the next 12 months but he’s earned another shot at getting back to his best form. At his best he was Spurs’ Tony Adams: brave and frequently in the right place at the right time.
Queuing at the entrance?
David Bentley (from Blackburn, £15m)
I’ve read that Bentley has successfully completed his medical at Tottenham and that his £15m signing will be announced this week. Elsewhere we read that Darren Bent and Aaron Lennon along with some money will be making their way to Blackburn in exchange for the midfielder.
Bring him in? For about £6-7m, Bentley would be a decent signing. He’s further along in his development than Lennon and has an ego that will drive him forward in becoming a better player. But £15m? Mental money, absolutely mental money. He’s not that good. I saw a handful of Blackburn games on TV last year and Bentley could put in a good 45 minutes, score the odd good goal but he’s no world class talent. Not even potentially so. To talk about exchanging two good players in Bent and Lennon for him (with money included) is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Anton Ferdinand (from West Ham, £7m)
The younger brother of that nice Rio chap from Man U, Anton has been playing in the West Ham first team for five seasons. He’s had his fair share of controversy after being involved in a fracas outside a nightclub (he was cleared in court of all charges) and then being fined £45,000 for going off to celebrate his 22nd birthday in South Carolina rather than visiting his grandmother in the Isle of Wight like he had told the club.
Bring him in? The stupidity of Ferdinand is almost reason enough not to buy the chap – what high-profile player, no matter how young and naive they might be, thinks they are going to get away with lying to their club in the manner he did? But the other reason for not buying him is the fact that he doesn’t appear to be very reliable or consistent. I don’t think he’s any better than an on-form Michael Dawson. It’s obvious West Ham – who don’t need the money – would be loathe to let him go.
Joaquin (from Valencia, £16m)
I don’t know a great deal about Joaquin despite having seen him play in the Champions League a few times. His career at Valencia has been moderate although he did net 7 goals from the right-wing in La Liga last season. To temper that he was omitted from the Spanish squad that won the 2008 European Championships after featuring in the previous three international tournaments.
Bring him in? I’m not sure that Joaquin is the player he was during his Real Betis days. He looked ok in the games I’ve seen him in but for that sort of money you would want someone who you feel has potential to be a star. I just think that star has waned.
Lukas Podolski (from Bayern Munich)
After not featuring much under previous coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, Lukas Podolski has gotten it in to his head that he’d like to leave. New coach Jurgen Klinsmann has insisted that he’s going nowhere and that he wants to build his team on Lukas. After a good showing at the European Championships where he scored three goals, Podolski raised his profile amongst the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City (obviously) and, possibly, Arsenal.
Bring him in? I quite like Lukas and think he would do well in the Premier League as a wide player who arrives late in the box and has a physical presence. Really it’s down to the money. £7m or so would be acceptable money to pay for him but you have a feeling Bayern would demand more and there are probably more natural wingers out there than Podolski. As a striker he has managed just 9 goals for Bayern in 47 games.
Roman Pavlyuchenko (from Spartak Moscow, £10m)
Is the Russian the new Dimitar Berbatov? Well, in terms of being an Eastern European striker with a decent scoring record and international success but somehow still bubbling under the radar. Pavlyuchenko came in to the public consciousness with the double that effectively knocked England out of the European Championships. He scored three goals at the tournament and got better as it went on before collapsing under a Spanish weight in the semi-finals.
Bring him in? I liked what I saw of Pavlyuchenko and get the impression that he’d compete well in the Premier League. The money is a little on the high side but so was the money shelled out for Berbatov and his market value has increased significantly. I think it’s an unlikely move but would actually like to see him, Berbatov and Keane form a strong forward line. Oh, and Darren Bent too of course.
Misunderstanding of the Day