It took 24 hours. As the drinks sprayed in Loughborough Bar Sport and my Chelsea-supporting mates jumped up and down, catching me in their spree, it all started to dawn on me what had happened. No Champions League, no money increases. Arsenal and Chelsea buoyed to grab top-4 again, as Tottenham would face a dogfight to repeat this season's finish. Players would depart, and transfer targets would not want to come. Make no mistake, Saturday night was a disastrous result for Tottenham Hotspur. But all is not lost. This season's shortcomings will push the team to improve what has been a stagnant squad.
This is now the Summer of Levy. Daniel Levy is going to face unprecedented pressure, as the ravens circle around North London to pounce on players like Gareth Bale and Luka Modric. For those unfamiliar, check out a previous piece here on the policies of Chairman Levy. The good news as that Levy has always kept Tottenham within its means wage-wise, so that missing out on Champions League does not put the team at risk. Along with this, Levy has been judicious in signing players to new contracts. Both of the players named above have signed extensions, as Bale is signed through 2015 and Modric through 2016. This is not to mention contracts for other top players like Benoit Assou-Ekotto (2015), Kyle Walker (2017), Younes Kaboul (2015), Sandro (2016), and Jake Livermore (2016). Levy has done well to make sure that the club has leverage with all of these potential transfers.
However, in this age of contract meaningless, Levy would do wise to prepare for departures. Modric stands out as a need for a contingency plan. Modric has been uncommitted about his future, saying he will wait until after the European Championships to decide on his future. It's difficult to project, but it seems anything short of a horrific Euros performance will have Europe's top clubs calling for Modric's services. If Modric does go, it seems likely that it will approach at least the £40 million barrier.
In his place at the club is no readied replacement. Tom Huddlestone is perhaps the closest to matching Modric's passing, but after missing nearly the entire season Huddlestone's future is very much in doubt. A deep pool of defensive midfielders remains with Scott Parker, Sandro, and Jake Livermore. However, a creative force will be needed to brought in to reinforce, likely whether Modric remains or not.
Looking around the Premiership, it is difficult to find a player who fits that potential and is in a club situation that would make a move likely. The only player that stands out to me is Swansea midfielder Joe Allen. Brendan Rodgers' system as Swansea has forced Allen into becoming a great passer, and at age 22 Allen seems to have a lot of potential to grow as a player. Other interesting players should be investigated from around the world, but Fernando Gago, Marvin Martin, Joao Moutinho, Lucas Biglia, and one of the Croatian duo of Milan Badelj/Mateo Kovacic provide a good launching-off point for potential replacements.
If Bale were to leave, Tottenham would be better equipped to deal with the loss with current players on the roster. Niko Kranjcar's long-favored position has been left midfield, and Steven Pienaar played the left wing in his exemplary loan to Everton in 2012. This is not too mention two young promising left midfielders in Danny Rose and Andros Townsend that would be charged for a chance to replace Bale. It would seem necessary to bring a more promising player to fortify the position and help in a push for Champions League. There are no obvious replacements in the Premiership, but James McClean and Matt Jarvis stand out as two younger players with promise that would be potential targets, plus Moussa Dembele if the price is right. Fabian Frei has been a standout at FC Basel and would be a fine left winger, and a deal could be swung for Juventus winger Eljero Elia.
Regardless, the biggest need entering the closed season will be finding a top class striker. Leandro Damiao is the top target, but the likes of Loic Remy remains in the periphery. Levy will have to cast a wide net to search for the next Papiss Cisse. Emanuel Adebayor is a candidate to return as well, but it is still to be seen whether his wage demands can be met and his club Man City offers an attractive price. No matter what happens to Adebayor, Tottenham would be wise to invest in a young promising striker.
Lastly, centerback is the position that must be improved. Michael Dawson and Ledley King endured injury-filled, disappointing seasons, emphasizing the need for a quality centerback to be brought it. Jan Vertonghen has been the name seemingly mentioned for a year, but it seems a major possibility that no Champions League pushes him to a different team. His teammate Toby Alderweireld could be a great alternative. Recently Italian-capped Angelo Ogbonna could be a candidate, and the Villarreal-relegated duo of Mateo Musacchio and Cristian Zapata should be looked at for purchase.
All in all, things are not looking so bad for Tottenham Hotspur, despite missing out on Champions League this season. Levy has done well to protect the club financially for this occurrence, and should have a strong negotiating stance entering any potential transfer for Spurs' players. Changes will come this summer, and they will be necessary if Tottenham is to reach Champions League again. Get ready for a crazy transfer season.