January Transfer Blueprint: Tottenham


***The Transfer Blueprint series details what each Premier League club should be looking for as the January window approaches. Comment below with your own thoughts about what each club should acquire***

Tottenham Hotspur currently sit sixth in the Premier League table with a game in hand going into tonight’s game versus Aston Villa. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have fully embraced their gaffer’s high pressing style which has resulted in some exciting football at the Lane. What’s been more impressive, is how the defense has been solidified with the acquisition of Toby Alderweireld. With Chelsea faltering, Tottenham has a prime opportunity to seize a Champions League place. The January window might be the difference in the Lillywhites grabbing glory or being frustrated once again by just missing out on a top four finish.

What They Should Buy: Tottenham simply must purchase a striker to provide cover from Harry Kane. The additions of Clinton N’Jie and Son Hueng-Min have helped the attack, but neither is particularly well suited to play as a lone striker.

It’s to Pochettino’s credit that the team has managed such success despite an extended Kane goal drought. An injury to the England striker would prove to be disastrous for Spurs. They simply can’t afford to go through the rest of the season without an alternative to guard against injury and to provide rest for their talisman. They don’t necessarily need to pay through the nose for a world-class option though. They’d be better served to find a modestly priced striker, who would be content to serve as Kane’s back-up and even play with him for select games.

Tottenham should also be in the market for another winger during the January window. Nacer Chadli has been poor on the young season with a Whoscored.com rating of only 6.63 and Andros Townsend has been even worse. The quality of the other attacking midfielders has distracted fans from their weak play, but it’s a huge opportunity for Daniel Levy to upgrade. Son will also factor into this position once he’s fully fit, but it would be wise to add another real winger to stretch the defense laterally.

While the Spurs defense has been solid as a unit, it too could add some strength during the January window. The central partnership of Alderweireld and Vertonghen has been terrific, and I quite like Kevin Wimmer as their backup. It wouldn’t hurt to add another centre back to learn from the first team pairing to guard against playing Federico Fazio ever again.

There’s also a concern behind Kyle Walker at right back. Kieran Trippier was brought in to provide not only cover, but competition for the inconsistent Walker, but he hasn’t provided either. He has been terrible in limited minutes and if Walker were to suffer an injury, I don’t think Trippier could be counted on. It might seem like overkill, but there’s a lot at stake this season for Tottenham and leaving Trippier as Walker’s only cover could be disastrous.

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The good news for Tottenham is that outside of purchasing a backup striker, the other needs are more wants than needs. Still, there is a huge opportunity for Tottenham to grab a Champions League spot so nothing can be overlooked.

What They Should Sell: Tottenham, unlike many of the clubs competing for Champions League spots, has a few players they can sell to fund further acquisitions. The squad size shouldn’t shrink if Pochettino plans to continue his prioritization of the Europa League, but there’s some dead weight.

The aforementioned Fazio should be shipped out at the earliest opportunity. He’s great in the air, but he could lose a foot race to his own shadow. His lack of pace has been horribly exposed in the Premier League and would be more palatable elsewhere. He’s still young enough to receive a decent fee and Tottenham should run to pick up the check.

Daniel Levy would also be well served to cut bait on a few of Tottenham’s former academy prospects. Despite Tim Sherwood’s belief, Tom Carroll is nowhere near the quality of Barcelona, and I struggle to see a future for him in North London. On the same note, Andros Townsend also would be better served by a move away. He certainly has physical ability, but his mental game just hasn’t come around. I could see a loan move from him as well, but at this age a sale would be more financially prudent.

What They Will Do: Daniel Levy will continue to be Daniel Levy. He will drive hard bargains all over the place and probably frustrate the Tottenham fan base to no end. He will flirt with the likes of Pato and Berahino at striker, but will come back with a youth product from a foreign league. The good news is that Paul Mitchell and his mysterious black box, will uncover a hidden gem.

Otherwise, I don’t see much movement. Perhaps another youthful purchase or two from England’s lower leagues a la Dele Alli last season, but nothing seismic. Tottenham will push on for a Champions League berth with largely the same squad they have today.