Who Will Pochettino Turn To? | Spurs Transfer Window Preview

Who Will Pochettino Turn To? | Spurs Transfer Window Preview

Mauricio Pochettino has been announced as Spurs’ Head Coach on a five-year contract, but with their busy summer transfer window in 2013, and with a reported £50 million to spend on players this summer, who will technical director Franco Baldini and head coach Mauricio Pochettino target this summer? And who will they let go?

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Defensive options

Spurs had an horrific season defensively, conceding 54 goals in total in the Premier League, with over 20 goals conceded against their top four rivals, losing three times throughout the season to both Arsenal and West Ham United, it wasn’t exactly a great defensive season despite recording clean sheets galore under Andre Villas-Boas until mid-October.

With Pochettino’s appointment in N17, and his persistence on a high intensity pressing game, there are three members of this current Spurs side that, simply put, will not suit Pochettino’s style of play. 

Current club captain Michael Dawson does not suit the high defensive line under Andre Villas-Boas, will certainly not suit Pochettino’s style of play, and with QPR, Hull City and Crystal Palace interesting in the former Nottingham Forest centre-back, it may be time for Spurs to cash in on their loyal servant of nine and a half years.

Danny Rose and Kyle Naughton may be the next players of this defensive set up to leave White Hart Lane in the summer. Kyle Naughton said back in February that he may have to leave as he wants first-team football every week, and with his team-mate Kyle Walker considerably better, it seems a perfect fit for both parties.

Danny Rose, however, will be an odd departure, for different reasons. In Summer 2013, Spurs fans, including myself, were begging for the left-back that had an impressive season at Sunderland, and with Villas-Boas not a huge fan of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Danny Rose had his chance. While the former England U-21 international is comfortable going forward, his ability to defend the left hand side of the pitch is incompetent at best.

This leaves three positions to fill in the Spurs defence: right-back, centre-back and left-back.

Two names that are heavily linked with the left-back position at Spurs are Swansea City’s Ben Davies and Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand.

Ryan Bertrand spent the second half of the season at Aston Villa under Paul Lambert, but with Aston Villa up for sale this summer and unable to purchase players for a fee, Spurs and Southampton have been rumoured to swoop for the Champions League winner.

In 16 appearances for the Villains, Bertrand won 55% of his ground duels and 56% of his aerial duels. In 34 appearances for the Swans, Davies won 51% of his ground duels and 41% of his aerial duels. Despite lower percentages, Davies played 18 games more than Bertrand, resulting in a better minute per duel ratio than his counterpart.

Bertrand vs Davies

Bertrand vs Davies

In comparison of the two young left-backs, it’s difficult to state who would be the most economical defender for Spurs to purchase as Bertrand has played considerably less games than Davies, but Bertrand’s stats over 16 games look impressive – winning 86% of his tackles. Although, Davies averages 38 mins per tackle and accumulated 64 interceptions over the season.

The Swansea City left-back averaged 18 minutes per possession won, compared to Bertrand’s 28 mppw, with the Welsh left-back creating 31 chances for his team-mates compared to Bertrand’s four. Davies averaged 2,873 minutes per defensive error, compared to current Danny Rose’s 634 minutes per defensive error.

If Spurs are able to sign Ben Davies or Ryan Bertrand, it will be an upgrade on their current left-back who is currently more suited to a left midfielder/wing role in Danny Rose.

Spurs have a significant problem at centre-back however, and after selling Steven Caulker in the summer, they may look to re-sign him again this summer; if this proves too difficult for Spurs, they may look to a defender Pochettino brought to the South Coast in Dejan Lovren. 

With the Croatian predominantly a left-sided defender, it may prove an unlikely move with current centre-back Jan Vertonghen making that spot his own, despite having a poor campaign in 2013/2014.

In reality, it seems like a strange decision to let Steven Caulker go last summer, but in a business sense for Daniel Levy, it proved a good move.

Steven Caulker had an impressive season at the back for Cardiff City, despite being relegated to the Championship. The English centre-back won 71% of his ground duels and 59% of his aerial duels – averaging a ground duel every 46 minutes and 14 minutes per aerial duel.

Lovren vs Caulker

Lovren vs Caulker

Dejan Lovren, however, won 65% of his ground duels and 61% of his aerial duels  – averaging 21 minutes per ground duel and 16 minutes per aerial duel.

The Southampton defender won 79% of his tackles, compared to Caulker’s 70% – with the Croatian intercepting his opponent 90 times compared to Caulker’s 62.

The Croatian looks a better bet than Caulker in regard to these statistics, although Pochettino will have to look at how he can play two left-sided defenders in the same side, which may prove difficult.

Right-back is a position that Spurs need competition for if Naughton leaves N17, with reports suggesting that Spurs may look to Daryl Janmaat of Feyenoord, but this may prove difficult as Feyenoord have Champions League football next season.

Midfield and attacking options

Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon and Jake Livermore have all been rumoured to leave White Hart Lane this summer.

Jake Livermore had an impressive season on loan at Hull City, and with Spurs having a wealth of options in midfield, he may well be one of the first to leave for Steve Bruce’s side this summer. Aaron Lennon, with all the promise he had as a youngster, has not been the player that Spurs fans and some parts of the media thought he would become. The right winger is annoyingly inconsistent, and looks more of a defensive winger than the winger who looked to put full-backs on the back foot last season. The 27-year old has scored just 25 goals in 257 appearances, and has scored just eight goals in his last eight seasons. Lennon was bought for just £1m back in 2005, so Levy will make a profit on the right winger if he is to let go the former Leeds United player.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is a strange player, who can provide brilliance in games, but can also go missing. The Icelandic midfielder has eight goals, with five of those coming in the Premier League last season, in 55 appearances since signing in July 2012.

Spurs generally don’t have much to do to improve their midfield in terms of acquisitions, but will need coaching on the training field, with Sandro and Etienne Capoue needing to improve their fitness; Paulinho needs to find his perfect position in midfield while Mousa Dembele has all the talent and characteristics for a world-class midfielder, but needs to improve his ability in front of goal in terms of goals and assists. The double-pivot of Sandro and Mousa Dembele was one of the best in the league under Andre Villas-Boas in the 2012/2013 season, and if Mauricio Pochettino can get these two back to their best, he may have his central midfield options sorted.

Two players that have been linked with moves to Spurs are Valencia’s Ever Banega and Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez. 

Banega made a loan switch to Newells Old Boys in January 2014, and looks out of favour at Valencia. WhoScored.com characterise the Argentinian midfielder as an all-rounder – with the 25-year old suitable as a player who likes to dribble, take long shots, impressive at set-pieces, through balls, and contributes defensively.

One element Spurs sorely lack in central midfield is a midfielder who is able to unlock defences, someone they haven’t seen since Luka Modric left for Real Madrid. Banega has 22 assists in 113 appearances for Valencia, of which he had eight in his first season back in the 2009/2010 season, whereas Luka Modric has 23 assists in 170 appearances.

The fact that Banega is Argentinian may have some pull with current head coach Mauricio Pochettino, with the midfielder out of favour at Valencia, he may be available on the cheap.

Another player that Pochettino may have grounds to persuade is his former player Jay Rodriguez. The 24-year old inside forward had a spectacular season under Pochettino, scoring 15 goals in 33 appearances – from a total of 74 shots, resulting in a shooting accuracy of 43%, a chance conversion rate of 20% and a clear-cut chance conversion of 67%.

Jay Rodriguez

Jay Rodriguez

The main factor in this rumour of Rodriguez to Spurs is the fact that the English international will be out until October with a knee injury he suffered against Manchester City in April, which may deter Levy and Baldini not to make a move for the English forward.

In regard to the central forward position, it was a position that was heavily debated by Spurs fans throughout last summer and throughout the course of the season. Spurs fans thought their prayers had been answered for a prolific striker when Roberto Soldado arrived at the club, only for the ex Valencia and Spain international to have a crisis on and off the pitch. Emmanuel Adebayor was not a part of Villas-Boas’ plan, AVB was sacked, Tim Sherwood was brought in and everyone in football knows what happened from there.

Adebayor was sensational for Spurs until speculation about Tim Sherwood’s future as Spurs boss. Adebayor scored 11 goals and assisted four goals in 20 Premier League appearances.

On his day the Togo striker can be unplayable, but throughout the season he tends to cause some tension in the squad, and regularly needs praise from his manager and coaching staff is he is to feel settled.

Levy may look to sell the striker, who has two years left on his contract, with the striker on huge wages.

Two strikers that may interest Pochettino are Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony and QPR’s Loic Remy.

Both strikers were integral to the relative success that their respective sides had last season. Wilfried Bony only made his move to the Liberty Stadium last summer but has made his mark on the Premier League already, scoring 16 goals, adding four assists to his name in 34 Premier League appearances.

Wilfried Bony vs Loic Remy

Wilfried Bony vs Loic Remy

The Ivory Coast international scored 16 goals from 91 shots – accumulating a 44% shooting accuracy, an 18% chance conversion and a 55% clear-cut chance conversion. His ability to shrug defenders off, while having relative pace to play off the shoulders of defenders and with an impressive finishing rate to match, this striker is certainly one Spurs should look to snap up, with a £19m fee placed on his head by Swansea according to reports.

Loic Remy is another striker Spurs should look to pursue, but this maybe unlikely, with their arch rivals Arsenal looking to snap the forward up from QPR after his successful season at Newcastle United, where the French international scored 14 goals and three assists in 26 appearances.

Spurs are set to have a busy transfer window yet again this summer, but will need to address key areas rather than sign seven players in areas they didn’t need addressing.

Summary

In – Ben Davies, Steven Caulker, Ever Banega and Wilfried Bony

Out – Michael Dawson, Kyle Naughton, Aaron Lennon, Jake Livermore and Emmanuel Adebayor

Back up – Danny Rose and Gylfi Sigurdsson

Need but unfeasible – Jay Rodriguez/Loic Remy