So guys, I'm doing a write-up for my favourite player, Zhano Ananidze, which is a dangerous idea. I touched briefly on his abilities in my Modrić Replacements & Dembélé Backups piece a few months back, but I believe it's smart to go a bit more in depth for a player who I believe could fill a role and fit in well at Spurs. Also, this is my last 'Imaginary Shortlist' article, so thank you all for reading them.
Name: Zhano Ananidze
Team: Spartak Moscow
League: SOGAZ Football Championship (Russia)
Primary position: Central attacking midfielder
Can also play: Wide attacking midfielder, central midfielder
Ananidze first became notable as an attacking midfielder for Spartak, but has had to play a bit-part role from the left wing for most of this season. His performances for the Georgian national team prove that he can play a deeper role as well.
Ananidze is a small, overly creative player, much in the mould of Luka Modrić. Like Modrić, his early career has been plagued with uncertainty over his long-term position, both drifting between attacking midfield and the left wing. The similarities don't stop there, as Ananidze is a talented playmaker whose key asset is his incredible passing ability. Ananidze is also a capable dribbler and his pace allows him to reliably beat his man and make a smart pass.
The Georgian made his debut in 2009 and became the youngest ever goalscorer in the Russian Premier League (at the age of 17 years and 8 days). That was arguably his best season of his first three, with Ananidze struggling for first form and then fitness in the 2010 and 2011-12 seasons. This year however, Ananidze has undergone something of a renaissance, featuring commonly for Spartak, albeit out of position. The huge number of wingers and midfielders would seem to be a restricting factor for Ananidze's playing time, but an injury to Sergey Parshivlyuk has caused squad-wide shifts and opened up spaces on the left wing, although the Georgian has still had to battle for playing time with Ari and Aiden McGeady.
The few problems present with Ananidze are mainly to do with his physicality. Whilst not injury prone, the Georgian finds it hard to complete a full 90 minutes and his small size means he is not able to hold off large players when challenging or being challenged for the ball. Despite his physical deficiencies, Ananidze also has competent defensive skills and is capable of coming back to add an extra body to the defence.
Likely price: Transfermarkt rates him at £2.2 million, but my best estimate for a transfer is about £8 million.
Probability that valuation is wrong: Low. Spartak have the money to refuse a lower fee, but their abundance of wingers and other young prospects might mean they would be willing to part with the player.
Team's willingness to sell: In 2009, Spartak's director of football claimed that they would not sell Ananidze until he was in his 20s. Having turned 20 in October, Ananidze could be leaving Moscow sooner rather than later. The return of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to fitness would also increase competition on the left and, combined with Jose Manuel Jurado and Demy de Zeeuw taking up central spaces, Ananidze may want to leave to get more regular playing time, which Spurs could probably provide.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Excellent. As a pacey and creative utility player, Ananidze could fill any number of roles at Spurs. He could be seen as a backup for the wingers or Mousa Dembélé and his pace and energy would make him an effective super-sub to hurt tired defences, although he would struggle against teams like Stoke and QPR.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Good. Daniel Levy loves his bargains, and Ananidze is certainly that. He has great potential and, while Spurs are certainly stacked in attacking midfield, the side could certainly use creativity other than Mousa Dembélé.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: A