How Tottenham can push into the top four next season
Against Manchester United, despite a largely good season under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham showed that there is still a gulf between them and the big teams in the Premier League, and are now six points off the top four, competing with three other clubs for one spot.
Finishing in a Europa League place this season wouldn’t be too much of a disaster, and fans can take many positives out of the campaign, which has been more of a transition this term. As it is, Spurs are 13/2 with Coral to secure a top four finish, though an odds-on price of 8/15 to place in the top six appear more achievable.
Under Pochettino, there has been a revival of a number of players who flopped in the last campaign, including signings brought in during Andre Villas Boas’ reign. Nacer Chadli’s improvement has been nothing short of remarkable, having scored on 10 occasions this term, while Erik Lamela is gradually acclimatising to life in the Premier League.
Although there has been a slight improvement of Roberto Soldado, it is likely he will move on in the summer after the rise to prominence of 21-year-old Harry Kane, who was on the periphery of the reserves and the first team last season, though now is the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League with 16 goals.
Next term, it is thought that Spurs need to strengthen in a couple of key areas to push on for a Champions League place. With Aaron Lennon likely to complete a permanent move to Everton at the end of his loan spell, Pochettino may recruit a right winger to compete with Andros Townsend.
Jay Rodriguez, although not an orthodox winger, is sure to be on the Argentine’s list, having played under him at Southampton, however, much depends on how quickly the 25-year-old recovers from a long term injury, and whether he comes back the same player.
Attracting elite players depends on how well the club can sell themselves, though Daniel Levy managed to convince big names nearly two years ago. Ideally, if someone of Pedro’s calibre can be convinced to leave Barcelona, his arrival would definitely be somewhat of a coup and would easily be an upgrade on what they currently have.
The Catalan club have the likes of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi occupying attacking berths, and with a number of youngsters coming through, in-line with coach Luis Enrique’s strategy, Barca may feel they can cash in on the attacker.
Should Soldado and fellow misfiring forward Emmanuel Adebayor leave the club, Spurs will be seriously short up front. A proven Premier League striker, in the mould of Javier Hernandez (currently on-loan at Real Madrid from Man Utd) could be ideal, however he is a different type of player to Kane, though nonetheless effective.
Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, who, like Kane is having a outstanding season, having netted 27 in 32 appearances across all competitions, could also be a name who comes under the radar and is capable of playing from wide areas, or through the middle. The 23-year-old’s eventual destination could be a top European club which qualifies for the Champions League, and it could be a task too far for Spurs to land him.
Loic Remy, who could be sold by Chelsea in the summer, could be a cheaper, more realistic alternative. With Pochettino utilising youth as the preferred double pivot, in Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason, a more experienced option could be brought in to marshal in the middle of the park.
Currently, they also have Mousa Dembele and Paulinho, who haven’t really hit it off, especially this season and long-term target Morgan Schneiderlin who wanted to follow his old coach to White Hart Lane last summer, could finally secure his move. He has been one of the best in his position in the Premier League this season, and it is hard to tell who he would choose should more clubs pursue his signature.
With Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier showing promise of developing a good partnership at centre half, a recruit there is unlikely. The first thing the new boss did when he arrived in north London was work on the defence, and it has paid dividends.
Kyle Walker’s future at the club has been called into question, so another right back is a possibility. The obvious link is, again, a former player of Pochettino’s in Nathaniel Clyne at the Saints, however, Sevilla’s Diogo Figueiras is a promising talent, and would be a much cheaper alternative if the player is in the manager’s thoughts.
It will certainly be an interesting summer at the club, if Pochettino is given the funds to shape his own team. After the job he has done this season, Levy should be left in no doubt what the Argentine could do with a relatively blank chequebook plus funds he recoups from outgoings.