I'm always thinking about the future; about who and how we should play, about our squad and potential new recruits, and so on, so I decided to make a limited series of posts about the upcoming 2014/2015 season. In this second post I want to muse about different transfer targets (within reason of course and in no way as an exhaustive list) that could help us build a competitive team and squad for next season. This, of course, will build on the former post about our squad and will lead into a final post on team and tactics. This is a quick look, so I'll try to be as short and sweet as possible and, as always, I welcome both discussion and criticism. Got that? Well, let's do it then.
1) WHO SHOULD WE GET?
As mentioned in the previous post, we don't really need to add another goalkeeper to our ranks. Hugo Lloris is a boss, Brad Friedel has signed a new contract and is a really good back-up goalie, and we also have Jordan Archer. Still, I think the time is right to get some new blood; a young, talented goalkeeper who can be groomed by Friedel & Lloris, get games in our other competitions and be a ready-made #1 for the future.
Who would that be? The obvious choice is Jack Butland. He's only 21, primed to be the next England first choice goalkeeper, and is wasting away at Stoke. Let's save him and give him the proper guidance for the future. Other options include Jan Oblak (Benfica), Maxym Koval (Dymano Kyiv) and Ørjan Nyland (Molde), who will all become really good goalies, but would probably be difficult to get to sign on to being second choice, since two of them are already starters and the third has faith in his current club.
We've been linked to some right backs, but that seems a bit pointless. Kyle Walker is great and we have decent cover there too. However, we do need improvement on left back and the same, or at least more cover, at center back. Danny Rose should at best be competing for the left back spot, and Younes Kaboul, Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches (if they all stay) will hopefully meet a new challenger for the role of partnering Jan Vertonghen.
So, who should be our new left back? In my opinion, there are three good options, ranked in this order: 1) Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg); a big, strong and still pretty fast left back who knows how to defend and is great in attack with his dribbling and crossing. 2) Daley Blind (Ajax); a steady, defensively sound left back who can also play as a defensive midfielder because of his vision and skill on the ball. 3) Ben Davies (Swansea); good both in defense and attack, though maybe without the creative skill of the former two, he'd be a good option to develop into an even better player. In addition, guys like Luke Shaw and Fabio Coentrao would be awesome, but I really don't think it would happen.
What about center backs? Well, there are several good options, but the two most feasible are Dejan Lovren (Southampton) and Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid). These two guys would both fit the role of a big, strong partner to Vertonghen, who both also have enough pace and positional skills for our pressing game. However, they are not the only ones: Three Dutch defenders pretty much fit the bill and could be possible targets; Stefan De Vrij (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord) and Joël Veltman (Ajax), and if we want, we could also go for English talent in re-signing Steven Caulker (Cardiff) or poaching John Stones (Everton). The question is only if we want to get someone who could start right away or someone who would only be in consideration for the time being.
We are extremely well stocked in midfield and you could argue we don't need to do anything at all. We have Sandro and Étienne Capoue as our "defensive" options, Mousa Dembélé and Paulinho as box-to-box-ish players, four good wingers in Erik Lamela, Aaron Lennon, Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend and a star #10 in Christian Eriksen, as well as a slew of alternative options in Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby, Nabil Bentaleb and Tom Carroll, plus a number of youngsters who could get their chance. So any additions will probably also mean a definite need to sell, but "meh", let's play around with some options anyway.
What could be considered is getting a new central midfielder more in the vein of a creative playmaker and a new left winger. On the former, we've been linked to Alex Song (Barcelona), who's a good player often used wrong, not technically a playmaker, but an all-round good box-to-box midfielder; Fredy Guarín (Inter), who is good, but not someone I think we need or should try to get; and Ever Banega (Valencia), who's an incredibly talented playmaker with some other issues that need to be taken into account, but who could come extremely good.
On the latter, there are so many talented players and I want them all. Bernard (Shaktar Donetsk), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Rémy Cabella (Montpellier) or Adam Lallana (Southampton) would all strengthen our team and slot in as part of an amazingly exciting and flexible trio behind the striker (if Poche want to play that way), but would probably all cost us a substantial amount of money and alert other big clubs who'll try to beat us to them.
Lastly, if we decide we mostly have what we need in midfield, but want to invest in some young, talented players to compete for spots, some options could include: Julian Green (Bayern), who I'd think you are all familiar with; James Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Viktor Fischer (Ajax), who's a quick and creative left winger with lots of potential; and Martin Ødegaard, a midfielder who's only 15 and is the youngest player to have played, as well as the youngest to have scored, in the Norwegian league. These guys would all be good signings in a long-term perspective.
Do we need a new striker? I think so, yes. Will we sign a new striker? I'm not so sure. Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane is what we've got and that's not too bad, but I really think we would be better off getting one or two new attackers and, if so, also selling a certain non-consistent someone. What we ideally should get is a class of striker who's good enough to compete and claim a starting spot up top, as well as a young talent who can get some chances and hopefully develop into a star striker for the future.
So... Who would that be? Well, the dream should be Romelu Lukaku, who is both of these things and would be an awesome signing any way you look at it. However, that might not be possible, so we might need to look at other options in both categories. In the first, we could go back for Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) or try for someone like Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid). Both of these guys would be really good signings. Perhaps less "sexy", but still good, would be to get someone like Jay Rodriguez (Southampton), Javier Hernández (Man Utd) or Jackson Martínez (Porto), who could all in some way be the hero we need. In the latter, we could go for guys like Saido Berahino (West Brom); Michy Batshuayi (Standard Liège), who we've been linked with for a while now; or John Guidetti (Man City), who has enormous potential and seems to be wasting it not getting his chance and always being loaned out. All these guys might be worth taking a chance to have as an option and try to build into even better players.
2) WHO WILL WE GET?
We do not know how much money Mauricio Pochettino will be allowed to spend this summer, but I'm guessing he'll get enough to make some adjustments towards what he thinks we need. Since there's no pressing need, we'll probably not get a new back-up goalkeeper, nor will we buy lots of young talent if no great deals come along, but I think we will invest in a new central defender, a new left back and maybe some new offensive options. This means we'll need to make it rain somewhat, but we got money in the bank and we could also sell several players... That is a game of wait-and-see, really.
Personally, I think we will sign Dejan Lovren as our new centre back and get a good, but reasonably priced, left back. That could be Ricardo Rodriguez or Daley Blind, if we can get a decent deal and bigger clubs don't gazump us, or that could be less "sexy" options like Ben Davies or someone completely different. I also think we will try for a new star striker like Romelu Lukaku and some more creative power for our midfield, but might be frustrated and have to settle for good players who can come in and compete with what we've already got or young talent to build for the future. Signing someone like Jay Rodriguez, James Ward-Prowse or Saido Berahino would come as no surprise, but I would not discount the chance that Levy & Pochettino suddenly also makes us all way too excited for the sake of our pants.
We'll just have to wait and see, navigate through #batcountry, and hope in the end that DIS GON BE GUD.
So, what do you guys think? Who should we be after as transfer targets? And who will we end up getting?