Now that Tottenham Hotspur's USA tour is completed, it's time to start gearing up for the season. We've seen the players, we're learning the formations, and now it's time to figure out just who will be on Spurs this year.
As you may know, the Premier League has instituted roster limits and restrictions. They are:
1) All Premier League clubs must submit a squad of up to 25 players.
2) Each 25-man squad must include at least eight 'home-grown' players.
3) A home grown player is defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Welsh Football Association for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).
4) In addition to the 25-man named squad, clubs can use an unlimited number of players aged 21 or under. An Under 21 player is defined as one who is under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences. For the 2012/13 campaign Under 21 players will have been born on or after 1st January 1991.
Now that we know the rules, let's see how Tottenham's roster fits into these restrictions:
(Not included is Aaron Lennon, who is homegrown)
In this key, players in white are over 21 years-old and non-homegrown, players in yellow are over 21 and homegrown, and players in blue are under 21 (and thus don't have to be on the 25-man roster). Luka Modric is listed in red, because I refuse to believe he will actually be on this roster next year. Now before we figure out who has to go and who may come still in this transfer window, let's figure out a few key questions:
A. Does Tottenham have any problems with homegrown players?
No. With only eight homegrown players required, Tottenham should be set no matter who is sold or loaned out. Tottenham appears to have ten "homegrown" locks to be on the roster (Lennon, Dawson, Naughton, Walker, Huddlestone, Bale, Parker, Sigurdsson, Livermore, and Defoe).
B. How many available roster spots are there?
Well, that's debatable. First, you'll have to sort the Tottenham roster into tiers. I would list 15 over-21 locks (Friedel, Lennon, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Vertonghen, Kaboul, Dawson, Walker, van der Vaart, Sandro, Bale, Parker, Sigurdsson, Livermore, and Defoe), and 3 near-locks (Cudicini, Naughton, Huddlestone). This leaves eighteen players, with seven remaining roster spots. Off the bat you can count on a third keeper on the roster, whether it be Gomes, Button, or a new addition (19th player). I'd also gamble heavily that either Danny Rose or Sebastien Bassong make the team as left back cover, and for now I'm saying the guy is Bassong (20). Jermaine Jenas also seems a safe bet to make the roster as Huddlestone comes back and Parker suffers with injury (21). So I'd say that leaves five remaining roster spots.
C. Cool, so who gets those five remaining roster spots?
Let's take some guesses:
22. #weneedastriker- Andre Villas-Boas told me twice in press conferences that he will sign a striker, so I am fully confident that a player will arrive before August 31st.
23. Wide Forward- We've heard players like Willian and Moussa Demebele linked to this spot, and you know that Andre Villas-Boas would like some more options there. However, I would not be shocked if coming off a strong Olympics, Giovani dos Santos is given this spot.
24. Luka's Replacement- I'm buying in fully that a central midfielder comes in to replace Modric. It could be Nuri Sahin, Joao Moutinho, or someone he haven't even heard of yet. But I'm guessing that if Luka leaves, the cupboard will not be left empty for Villas-Boas.
Ok, now here's where we get really speculative:
25. #weneedastriker Part Deux.- After Harry Kane has struggled this pre-season, I don't buy that AVB is happy to roll with just Defoe and one other guy up front. It could be a veteran on-loan or a young upcomer, but I get a feeling there may be one more forward.
D. What happens to the remaining guys?
Where there's smoke, there's fire. When I asked Andre Villas-Boas about Tottenham's players at the Olympics, the Gaffer responded "When you arrive at a new club, you can only see a player's quality when you work with them on a daily basis. [The players on the U.S. Tour] will be a step ahead on how we train." This does not seem to bode well for Danny Rose, who just seems to be a bad fit for Tottenham at the moment. Missing the preseason has surely hurt his cause, and he has not impressed with Team GB. He takes up a roster spot now, which very much hurts his case. Townsend can play midfielder just as well as Rose it seems as a U-21, while a combination of Naughton and Bassong may be more competent at left back. Rose seems a major loan candidate, with the possibility of a sale if a worthwhile bid comes in.
Correspondingly, David Bentley's failure to impress despite significant playing time makes me think that Bentley will be unable to find minutes on this squad. Bentley still provides the class to be an impact player at a low-table side or even a Championship side. But Bentley's admitted interest in making a move to San Jose Earthquakes earlier this spring shows that Bentley may now understand that his future is not with Spurs.
It seems a guarantee that Gomes and/or David Button get sold or loaned out. Gomes is preferable to leave because of his higher wages, but if AVB cannot bring in a new young goalkeeper (e.g. Hugo Llloris), he might favor loaning out Button to gain experience while Gomes rots away on the bench again.
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