Tottenham Hotspur's tour of the United States has concluded, and they'll head home to Europe for a couple more preseason matches before they kick off their Premier League campaign. That's two more preseason matches and just a week and a half before a big clash against Newcastle United, who should challenge for a top-seven spot again with their squad as-is. As it stands, Tottenham will go into that match without a top quality center forward.
Spurs haven't had a class No. 9 that matches their aspirations as a club since Dimitar Berbatov departed. Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko struggled, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe are only as good as the complimentary player next to them and Emmanuel Adebayor was brought in on a loan without a purchase agreement. Most fans have faith that Daniel Levy will solve this problem, but with a month left in the transfer window, it hasn't been solved.
If there's one thing we learned from Tottenham's U.S. tour, it's that this is a truly massive problem. The team had a problem up top before Adebayor was brought in last season, but at least Crouch and Pavlyuchenko were still with the club. The situation was not ideal, but at least Tottenham actually had two players who, at one point in their careers, were solid line-leading No. 9s.
Defoe is a solid player, but it's hard to envision him as a starter under Villas-Boas. He's a player from an era gone by, when all of the best English sides played with a target forward and a goal poacher. He's still extremely useful in modern football as a game-changing substitute, but he's not a starting center forward for a team whose aspiration is a top-three finish in the Premier League.
Harry Kane might be a future England international, but if he is, it's not going to be as a center forward in a one-striker formation. He's played in the hole with England youth teams and after watching him try to play as a lone center forward over the last few games, it's become increasingly obvious that it's not where he belongs. As long as Rafael Van der Vaart and Gylfi Sigurdsson are around, he's not going to get any time in that spot.
Villas-Boas, Levy and Tim Sherwood technically have another month to bring in a center forward, but they have considerably less time than that to bring in a center forward who will be ready to start against Newcastle United. They have about a week to do that, maybe 10 days if that forward is Adebayor. Otherwise, Defoe's going to get a start at St. James' Park, and something tells me Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor won't be too bothered by that.
We've known that Tottenham needed to buy a striker this summer for a very long time. We knew back September of 2011 that even if Spurs signed Adebayor, they needed to sign one more striker. This is not a top-three or even top-four team at present, period. If Tottenham go to St. James' Park with this team, it will take miracle long-range or set piece goals to get points.
It's not news that Spurs need a striker, but I held out a faint bit of hope that playing Kane and Defoe for a couple of games wouldn't be a disaster if, for some reason, Levy pulled his regular shenanigans and took until deadline day to pull off a big transfer.
Spurs proved last year that a team can recover from a terrible start pre-window closing, but their two losses came in fixtures that likely would have been losses at any point in the season. If Spurs drop points against Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion, those are truly points dropped, against teams that a full-strength team with a real striker probably would defeat. Tottenham need a striker immediately.
If Monday passes without Adebayor or a comparable player signing on the dotted line, it's time to panic.
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