The whole striker thing has been discussed ad nauseam here, right? WRONG. What's really making me nauseous is the fact that we have guys like Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart, Tom Huddlestone, and a bunch of strikers that are either not good or old-school English players. We're in need of a complete striker. A guy with the combination of size, skill, speed, and tactical acumen to lead the line and play up top by himself.
I don't think it's a matter of want at this point. We're in the Champions League group stages and we're competing for the top four again. If Daniel Levy and Harry Redknapp are not content with the club's current standing and they really want the club to grow, this is just as important as securing a new stadium in the short term. Think I'm exaggerating? I don't think this is hyperbole at all.
Right now, our options up top are not great. For the purposes of this column, I'm pretending that Robbie Keane does not exist. If he actually gets sold to West Ham United, I will return to acknowledging that he is an actual human being who actually exists. So, that leaves us with Peter Crouch, Roman Pavlyuchenko, and Jermain Defoe as our potential options up top.
For the purposes of this column, I'm declaring that our best possible setup when everyone is healthy is our regular 4-4-1-1 formation with van der Vaart in the hole, Modric and Huddlestone behind him and Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon out wide. I believe that all five of these players bring more to the team when they are on the pitch than any of our current strikers, and as a result, I think that our tactics should be tailored around getting these players on the pitch. All four of these players are almost unquestionably top four and Champions League level talent. Crouch, Defoe, and Pavlyuchenko are almost unquestionably not up to that standard.
Right now, none of these three strikers appear to be a great answer as a lone striker in our system. Roman Pavlyuchenko seemingly has the skill set to be this player, but he has yet to show that he can actually be this player in practice on a consistent basis. He leaves something to be desired in the pace department, and a lot to be desired in the work rate department. When you watch his performances for Russia and Spartak Moscow - and even Spurs at his best - this is exceptionally frustrating.
Crouch and Defoe are good players, but they're good players in Harry Redknapp's old 4-4-2, long ball setup. This is not something Spurs should abandon permanently, as it's a really good Plan B / Plan A when VDV is injured. Unfortunately, both of these players are only just barely competent as the lone striker in our (or my) preferred setup. Crouch lacks the pace to be consistently effective in that setup, while Defoe lacks the size, and both arguably lack the skill. Crouch is a pure target man and Defoe is a pure poacher; they don't fit the system at all.
Spurs need a new player. I'm not going to be picky, I think there are a lot of guys who could possibly fit the bill. A lot of people have mentioned Luis Fabiano. This seems unrealistic at this point, but I would love to have him. Lisandro Lopez from Lyon also falls into that category - unrealistic, but a solid fit. Diego Forlan, Fernando Llorente, and Oscar Cardozo would all be fantastic fits. I'm not sure how much Porto would want for Hulk or Falcao, or how much Borussia Dortmund would demand for Lucas Barrios, but they would all be excellent fits. Ajax has appeared to be willing to sell Luis Suarez, just not for the joke of a price that Liverpool want to pay. There are good strikers all around the world who could be potential fits for us, ranging from affordable question marks/old guys to young, world class, expensive stars. I'm not going to tell Harry and Mr. Levy who to buy, but they need to buy someone. I think the success of our team depends on it.
Let's take a look at the case of Blackpool's Charlie Adam, who exemplifies while Spurs need to spend some money on a striker immediately, just on a much smaller scale. A year and a half ago, Adam was a frustrated player who was struggling to get minutes at Rangers. Adam wanted to play, and Rangers needed some money. Blackpool manager Ian Holloway convinced his chairman to spend £500k on Adam, breaking the club's transfer record. Reportedly, Holloway had to borderline beg the board to come up with the funds, and they reluctantly made it happen. Charlie Adam turned out to be the best player in the Championship, and he single-handedly got Blackpool promoted. This year, they would potentially be in the drop zone without him. Blackpool are going to stay up, though, and likely sell him at a massive profit in the summer. Between money for being in the Premier League, Adam's future sale price, and parachute payments if Blackpool go down, Adam's transfer probably made Blackpool close to £100m.
Obviously, bringing in someone like Diego Forlan will not make Spurs that kind of extra money. I'm not expecting anyone to pay back their transfer fee 200x over. However, I do think that buying a striker that fits our current system and that will work well with van der Vaart is a move that will pay for itself in six months or less. I think that right now, Spurs are the fifth best team in the Premier League and slight underdogs against A.C. Milan. If we purchase a striker who is a perfect fit for our system, our chances of finishing fourth and defeating Milan go up exponentially. If we complete only one of those two tasks, the transfer has basically paid for itself.
Of course, we must acknowledge the possibility that Spurs spend a good chunk of money on a striker and they do not finish top four or defeat A.C. Milan. In that case, I still think it was a risk worth taking. If it means that Harry has no money to spend in the summer, it was worth it. We need to be bold. There's an opportunity in front of us to actually become a big club instead of the psuedo big club that we've been for the better part of the last decade. We need to learn from Blackpool and take a shot at the big time.
Mr. Levy, please don't be afraid to go snatch that opportunity.