Following the appointment of a new manager, or Head Coach in André Villas-Boas’ case, there was always likely to be a number of comings and goings this summer. While we might not have been able to predict a few of the deals done late in the transfer window, there was an air of expectancy surrounding some of the comings and goings.
Tottenham, and Chairman Daniel Levy in particular, gave the impression of turning over a new leaf as the club did some early business, securing the signatures of Ajax and Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen and Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurðsson early in July. These two signings gave Spurs supporters hope that Villas-Boas had convinced Levy to sign the players he wanted for his team early, therefore allowing him to have his desired squad in place for the start of the new season. It wasn’t to be though.
Last years loan star Emmanuel Adebayor was next in through the doors, but that deal wasn’t finalised until there was just ten days of the transfer window remaining. Fulham star Mousa Dembélé followed, with three days remaining, while his team mate Clint Demsey also made the move from West London on transfer deadline day. France captain Hugo Lloris was another late arrival, the goalkeeper joining before the 11pm deadline from Olympique Lyonnais.
No fewer than seventeen players left the club; a number seeing their contracts out, while big names Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart brought the club significant funds with big money moves to Europe.
1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Sigurðsson became the first signing of the summer when he joined on July 4th. The tall Icelander arrived at Spurs following an eye catching loan spell at Swansea City last season, where he bagged seven goals after joining in January.
His performances at the Swans led to Gylfi acquiring many admirers, most notably ex-Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers, now of Liverpool, who was keen to be reunited with him at Anfield. Despite rumours to the contrary, Sigurðsson ensured Spurs fans that it was for footballing reasons he chose to join the North London club.
His eye for a pass, goal scoring ability from midfield and set piece delivery are all assets that gave him the tag of ‘a proper Tottenham player’ and he is sure to be a star in the midfield this season. Late window departures could see him become more important to the cause than first thought.
Vertonghen finally joined the club on the 12th July from Ajax following a long transfer saga that seemed like it would never end. The Belgian international, an outstanding centre-back or a reliable left-back, arrived after weeks of speculation that began when he was pictured at Tottenham’s final league game of last season, at home to Fulham.
The athletic defender was Ajax’s player of the season last year and was linked with a host of Europe’s top clubs prior to joining Spurs. His confidence on the ball and willingness to step out of defence when in possession are likely to endear him to the White Hart Lane faithful in no time. Most definitely a potential club captain of the future.
Adebayor saw his Manchester City nightmare come to a permanent end on August 21st, as he finalised his move to Tottenham, where he had impressed on loan throughout 2011/12. While details of the transfer remain vague, rumour has it that Levy managed to get Adebayor for a fraction of what City paid in 2008, while many believe that the reigning Premier League champions are still paying a percentage of the Togolese international striker’s wages.
Under Harry Redknapp, Adebayor rediscovered the form that saw then-City manager Mark Hughes fork out £25m for his services. He scored 17 goals in 33 Premier League games, as well as claiming 11 assists, an impressive record by anyone’s standards.
Despite Redknapp’s departure, the club were obviously keen to be reunited with such an asset, and his previous reputation is yet to rear its ugly head as he seems an integral part of the group dynamic. While some say that he won’t play as well now he has secured his move away from Manchester, he is the perfect foil for the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon to feed off and is likely to be the focal point of Tottenham’s attack again this season.
Following the arrival of Vertonghen, his Belgian international teammate Dembélé arrived from Fulham FC for a fee of £15m, treble what the Cottagers paid for him just two seasons ago. He was signed by Mark Hughes in the summer of 2010 when he was seen as more of a forward than a midfielder, but his talents would see him employed in a deeper role before long.
His first season in West London was capped by winning the Fulham goal of the season for a goal against, you guessed it, Spurs. The Belgian ran from the halfway line before finishing powerfully past Heurelho Gomes in the Tottenham goal.
Dembélé went from strength to strength in his second season in the Premier League under ex-Tottenham head coach Martin Jol, who was keen to use him in a much deeper role. Playing as one of a pair of deep lying midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Moussa caught the eye of most Premier League bosses and continued that fine form at the start of the 2012/13 season, earning the man of the match award following Fulham’s defeat at Old Trafford.
While goal scoring isn’t at the top of his list of qualities, he does have fine technique and has shown a willingness to shoot from distance. He did of course cap his Tottenham debut with a wonderful strike against Norwich City.
His versatility was no doubt a deciding factor in the club’s pursuit of him, and his ability to play a number of roles is likely to see him become an important player in the Tottenham squad under Villas-Boas, as he has already shown.
France captain Lloris was the first of two deals done just before the window closed on August 31st. Another player that had been linked with a switch to White Hart Lane all summer finally arrived from Lyon rated as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
An alleged fee of £8m was enough to snap up Lloris, capped 38 times for his country, who led France at Euro 2012 after being named captain in February of this year.
His reflexes and astute decision making make him the perfect candidate to take over from the aging Brad Friedel, now 41, gradually this season. His ability to command his box and his comfort with the ball at his feet were likely traits that Villas-Boas found attractive, as he searched for a ‘sweeper keeper’ for his new side.
While Friedel excelled against Norwich on Saturday, Villas-Boas has said that the American will keep his place in goal, for the short term at least, as Lloris is slowly integrated into the physically demanding nature of the English game.
Dempsey, a second arrival from London rivals Fulham, was perhaps the surprise signing of the summer at Spurs, joining along with Lloris on August 31st. He became the second player to be seemingly pulled from Liverpool’s grasps, as they were linked with a deadline day move too, before failing to come up with a suitable transfer fee.
The move came from left field and seemed to take no time at all, as Sky Sports News showed the American international arriving at Spurs Lodge before departing shortly after while we waited for official confirmation.
Dempsey is another player who is likely to have been signed due to his ability to perform in a variety of positions. He has played as a striker, an attacking midfielder, a deeper central midfielder as well as on both wings. He scored 36 goals in his last two seasons at Craven Cottage and has scored 27 goals during his 86 caps for the USA.
His all-action playing style and hard working nature will surely make him a fan favourite at the Lane. Dempsey once played two full games for New England Revolution with a broken jaw as well as playing through the pain of a broken ankle
It was a hard day for all involved with Tottenham Hotspur FC when the club announced the retirement of Ledley. He had been a true warrior for the team for over a decade and gone from young pretender to club captain, leading the side to the Carling Cup win in 2008.
Since making his debut at Anfield in May 1999, Ledley went from strength to strength, growing as a man and a footballer. He still holds the record for the fastest goal in Premier League history, away to Bradford City in December 2000.
Despite a chronic knee problem, Ledley was always mentioned when speaking of the world’s best defenders, and would surely have held that title outright had he not struggled with injury.
A rare one-club player in the modern era, questions are always asked whether Ledley would have remained at Spurs had he not been so unlucky with injury, as the world’s biggest clubs would no doubt have been interested in the Tottenham skipper.
King made a total of 315 appearances for the club, scoring 15 goals, and will be honoured with a testimonial match at the end of the current season.
The Croatian attacking midfielder was first out the door at White Hart Lane this summer, heading to Ukraine to join Dynamo Kiev for a fee of £5.5m.
Kranjčar was brought to the club by Harry Redknapp, who had previously signed him at Portsmouth on September 1st 2009. He went on to make 72 appearances for the club, many of those from the bench, and scored 11 goals.
Niko was a player who always seemed undervalued at Spurs, despite his obvious talent and ability to change a game. A strong first season was followed by two where he spent the majority of his time on the substitute’s bench and grew frustrated by his lack of game time.
Used predominately on the left wing, Niko was left to watch Gareth Bale cement his place in the team. Many fans saw Kranjčar as the perfect player to replace Rafael van der Vaart, who played in behind a lone striker, but the Croat was rarely given a chance to shine here, in his favourite position.
‘Charlie’ quickly became a fan favourite at White Hart Lane following his move from Manchester City in 2008 and was used at both centre-back and his preferred position of right-back throughout his time with Tottenham.
At right-back he excelled and built a fine partnership down Tottenham’s right flank with Aaron Lennon. A lack of pace was often his Achilles heel, but his reading of the game was often enough to see him rarely caught out.
The emergence of Kyle Walker saw his playing time limited last season. He spent the second half of the season on loan in Germany at Bayer Leverkusen before signing a permanent deal with Lokomotiv Moscow on 27 June, linking up with former Croatia international manager Slaven Bilić.
Pienaar arrived at White Hart Lane in January 2011 with a growing reputation in England, Spurs having beaten Chelsea to his signature. A nominal fee was paid for the South African international, who had just six months to run on his contract at Everton.
Pienaar was seen as an alternative to Bale on the left wing, while having the versatility to play in a number of midfield roles. He was just one of the outstanding players during Tottenham’s 1-0 victory over AC Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League that season, where his hard working style earned him rave reviews.
Despite a proven record in the Premier League, Pienaar struggled with injury which led to unsettled form and when he was fit, he struggled to break into an impressive Spurs side. He returned to Everton on loan in January 2012 for the remainder of the season, a move questioned by many Spurs supporters who still rated Pienaar, and thought his departure left the squad very light.
Back at Goodison Park Pienaar rediscovered the form he had shown prior to his move south and despite returning to Spurs for pre-season, even featuring in the opening game against Stevenage, he secured a permanent move back to Merseyside.
An integral figure beside Michael Dawson and Ledley King during his first season at the club in 2009/10, when the club famously qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time, Bassong looked to be more than worth the £8m the club spent on him.
A debut goal against Liverpool and the goal that kept us in the game in our Champions League qualifier in Switzerland against Young Boys of Bern endeared him to the Tottenham crowd. But regular lapses in concentration, as well as patchy form coupled with a lack of regular playing time all but signalled the end for the Cameroon international at White Hart Lane.
A loan move in January to Wolverhapton Wanderers ended in relegation, but ex-Tottenham man Chris Hughton, who had previously worked with Bassong at Newcastle United, was keen to bring him to Norwich City. Bassong signed a contract with the Carrow Road club on 21 August and featured against Spurs at White Hart Lane on Saturday during the side’s 1-1 draw.
The most expected transfer of the summer was Modrić’s big money move to Real Madrid, which was finalised on the 27th of August.
Modrić was signed by Spurs in April 2008, for a club record fee of £16.5m. Labelled lightweight during his early days at the Lane, Luka struggled to make an impact in the Premier League and new manager Harry Redknapp moved him to the left side of midfield, where he started to show the form that inspired the club to invest in him.
A switch to the centre of midfield saw him flourish as he played in a deep lying playmaking role; collecting the ball from the defence before setting up attacks. Season 2010/11 saw Modrić named as the supporter’s player of the season before he was linked with a move to Chelsea. A summer of transfer speculation followed, but Chairman Daniel Levy stood firm, refusing to sell his prized asset.
2011/12 confirmed him as one of the league’s best midfielders and more admiring glances followed. Despite the club’s reluctance to sell, the Croatian international finally sealed his move away from Spurs, and made his debut in the Spanish Super Cup final second leg, where he was part of Real Madrid’s winning side.
Highly rated ‘keeper Button headed across London to join Charlton Athletic on August 28th following 13 loan moves throughout the lower leagues, starring at Plymouth Argyle. Button made his one and only appearance for Spurs as a substitute during the Carling Cup win over Doncaster Rovers in August 2009.
Despite being held in high regard by Spurs’ goalkeeping coach Tony Parks, Button was offered the chance to play first team football under Athletic manager Chris Powell.
Rafael van der Vaart
Despite being a fan favourite at White Hart Lane, van der Vaart departed on deadline day to re-join former club Hamburg SV. The world class attacking midfielder became an instant hit at Tottenham following his arrival in August 2010. The Dutch international scored 15 goals in all competitions in his first season, following that up with 13 in his second.
A knack of scoring against North London rivals Arsenal saw him catch the headlines, while his European experience was vital during the club’s debut season in the Champions League.
An integral part of the Dutch national side, Rafa’ has captained the side on several occasions and won his 100th cap having scored 19 goals in the progress.
His departure saw Twitter explode with messages of good luck for van der Vaart, showing just how popular a figure he was at White Hart Lane. Despite claiming he wishes to remain in Germany for the remainder of his career, the Dutchman would undoubtedly be welcomed back at the club in the future.
Giovani Dos Santos
Dubbed ‘the new Ronaldinho’ at old club Barcelona, Mexican Dos Santos arrived in England with a huge reputation. An attacking midfielder, Giovani was sure to be a hit in the Premier League with his pace, flair and direct running style.
Alleged behavioural problems away from the pitch saw Dos Santos struggle to earn a place in the starting line-up and after just 12 first team appearances, he was sent to Ipswich Town on loan in March 2009.
Further loan spells at Galatasaray and Racing Santander followed, but despite starring for the Mexican national side, Giovani saw opportunities limited at White Hart Lane.
While many fans wondered why the Mexican trickster was used so sparingly by Harry Redknapp, it is clear that Dos Santos did little to earn a place in training, seemingly straining for a move away from England. A transfer to Udinese came close to completion, but the player was allegedly keen on a move back to Spain, which didn’t materialise until 31st August 2012, when he was sold to Real Mallorca.
Goalkeepers Ben Alnwick, Oscar Jansson and Mirko Ranieri, defender Ryan Nelsen, midfielders Jesse Waller-Lassen and Lee Angol and strikers Louis Saha and Kudos Oyenuga all left the club following the expiry of their contracts.
The overhaul of the Tottenham squad was expected, though not quite to the large degree we witnessed. Losing the likes of Modrić and van der Vaart was always likely to weaken the squad, but the potential shown by Dembélé and Sigurðsson shows the club’s creative department are in good hands. Ledley King is sure to be a huge loss to the team and the club as a whole, but Vertonghen has already shown glimpses of his undeniable talent, which along with young star Steven Caulker, could be enough to plug the gap left by the club’s captain.
Many have labelled the squad as weaker than at this stage last season, but having a good squad is only worth having if the man in charge is willing to use it. Harry Redknapp failed to do that, but under Villas-Boas we can only hope that every player will see his fair share of playing time. Competing on four fronts means the squad will have to stay fit and competitive; keeping first team regulars on their toes, knowing there is an able replacement ready to step into their role should their form dip.
New signings and a tactically astute head coach give us plenty to be excited about this season.
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