Yesterday was one of those bummer midweek match days where I don't have a Tottenham Hotspur match to watch after class (or during occasionally, but keep that quiet). But on this day of international friendlies, I was struck by just how many players who have started for their national teams Spurs have on their team these days. The team is a world tour, just look at this list:
Wales: Gareth Bale
Scotland: Alan Hutton
Netherlands: Rafael van der Vaart
Croatia: Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka, Stipe Pletikosa
France: William Gallas
Russia: Roman Pavlyuchenko
Honduras: Wilson Palacios
Brazil: Gomes, Sandro
In fact, making a line-up with no player from the same country, you could make a pretty good roster:
Van der Vaart
Bale Palacios Modric Pienaar
Assou-Ekotto Gallas Dawson Hutton
Impressive, but when you look at the roster, there are still some countries and regions that are underserved by Spurs. So what are the top-5 regions and countries where Tottenham should search for talent, knowing the opportunity for top-notch talent and ability to offer a better opportunity than the domestic league?
5. USA: Fine, fine call me biased. But looking at the emerging success of Americans in the EPL like Stuart Holden and Clint Dempsey, and it's clear the Americans are good fits for the English game. Spurs only past American was Kasey Keller, a quality player for the squad, and his goalkeeper brethren Brad Friedel and Tim Howard have been two of the top EPL keepers of the last decade. The position I would look for Tottenham to search for the States for is holding midfield, a perennial weakness for Spurs and strength for the US. The likes of Michael Bradley would work wonderfully in a Spurs shirt.
4. East Asia: To my memory, Tottenham have only had one player from this region, the solid Lee Young-Pyo. To reinvest scouting in Japan and South Korea would not only pay off on the field, but also financially. Both nations' national teams have been on the rise, and players like Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong, Monaco's Park Chu-Young, CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda, and Dortumund's Shinji Kagawa have excelled among the best of Europe. From the financial side, getting some players from the region could open up Spurs to a large new potential for fan support and revenue. East Asia seems to be producing creative midfielders at a high clip, so it would be wise to look east again.
3. Ghana: More than any region on the African continent, West Africa has become the area of the top footballers. The Ivory Coast's Didier Zakora was a club favorite, and Cameroon is well represented on the current team. Kevin-Prince Boateng was a Spurs bust from Ghana, but Harry would be wise to revisit the Black Stars. Rumors were that he went in hard on Asamoah Gyan, who has been a star at Sunderland this season. Ghana seems to produce the best players out of West Africa for the EPL; there's no language barrier and the system seems to produce players built physically for the league.
2. Yugoslavia: But wait a minute... Yugoslavia isn't a country any more? True. But going for its former republics has been a great recipe for Tottenham so far. Croatia has been fruitful for Spurs. There are opportunities in the region: the domestic leagues don't have the wealth to give high contracts and demand inflated fees. Serbia has long been a power, but now nations like Slovenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina have all succeeded on the international level. Spurs would be wise to return to the well they have in the region. Hell, maybe they can be for the Balkans what the Arse is for France?
1. Argentina: I'm sure many Spurs fans dream of more Brazilians on Tottenham, but the record of Brazilians in the Premiership remains mixed at best. Instead, Tottenham should return to Argentina, home of 80's greats Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa. A deep well of talent exists in Argentina, and the poor economic conditions of the Argentina first division versus that of Brazil's have made Argentina a place to look for value. Perhaps I just want another Ossie's Dream made in honor of our next Argentinean star, but a return to the land of La Albiceleste would be wise.
Ossie's Dream - 1980/81 Cup Final Squad with Chas & Dave (via viaccess)