Mauricio Pochettino has made his displeasure around England’s closed transfer window known yet again, and with good reason. Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are all into the final year of their contracts, leaving Spurs vulnerable to bids in the European transfer market, the window for which closes only on the second of September.
Given the lack of defensive cover, the club may still hang onto the two players on the wrong side of thirty and let them run down their time at the club, but the Danish midfielder coveted by Real Madrid (supposedly) is another proposition altogether. The manager and his chairman, Daniel Levy, have done well to keep the core of a talented group together but there have been occasional rumblings of disquiet in recent times. This has manifested itself in players refusing to extend their deals at the club and Eriksen’s determination to part ways could leave a big dent in Tottenham’s title aspirations this season.
Spurs have made quality additions in midfield this season with the signings of Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon and Giovani Lo Celso on loan from Real Betis. If the deal for Paulo Dybala had gone through, it really would have been a sensational window for the club, with Ryan Sessegnon, Jack Clarke and Kion Etete also joining with an eye on the future. As it turns out, the failure to bring Dybala to London has complicated matters and Spurs would struggle to fill a creative void if the Dane were to leave for new pastures.
His importance to the team was starkly made apparent in the opening day win against newly promoted Aston Villa. Trailing at home, Spurs struggled to break down the visitors until Eriksen’s introduction midway through the second half. The tide turned almost immediately and it was a reminder to the manager and fans that even an unsettled Eriksen could be the difference between victory and defeat.
The game against Manchester City passed him by, and there is no disgrace in that, especially away. But, his ability to pick a pass from deep or unlock defences from the hole behind the striker cannot be replicated at the moment by others in the squad. Lo Celso did just that for Betis last season, to great effect, but Pochettino himself has mentioned that the Argentinian is nowhere close to sealing a spot in the starting eleven. Dele Alli has regressed over the last year after a couple of phenomenal seasons and it remains to be seen if his hamstrings allow him sufficient minutes, let alone an extended run in the team.
Pochettino has displayed a penchant for freezing players agitating for a move out of the squad, notably Alderweireld and Danny Rose, but he may have no choice but to play the Dane if he remains by the end of next weekend. With Eriksen reportedly refusing to even discuss new terms, Real Madrid and the masters of the free transfer in Juventus may be content waiting until January before making a move.
This would mean that Eriksen would have another season to give at London and while Levy would be loath to let a coveted player go for nothing, it may be the solution that suits all parties. Pochettino and Spurs need their talismanic midfielder. Boy, do they need him!