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Wednesday Hoddle of Coffee, Soccer News and Links, February 8, 2017

Let’s talk about future midfield options for Spurs.

Tottenham Hotspur FC v AS Monaco FC - UEFA Champions League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Stats Bomb has an interesting feature up this week on Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar. One thing that they noted is that Lemar is an intriguing prospect in that he’s versatile, able to play in a few different systems, and is pretty strong as a dribbler. As a Spurs fan, that sounded awfully familiar.

To be clear, I don’t have any kind of ITK information on Lemar. Indeed, the record Poche has so far at Spurs on transfers is that no one outside the club knows anything until the deal is done. So this is not any kind of Lemar-to-Spurs rumor. Rather, I’m just thinking about the future of Tottenham’s midfield and what sort of players we ought to be looking at as potential transfer targets.

To be sure, Harry Winks is a great prospect. Wanyama is also only 25 so he probably has 3-4 years of good football left in him at least. Eric Dier is also still only 23 and if Poche sees him as a midfielder long term, then that gives us three good midfield options excluding the aging Dembele.

Even so, a team competing in Europe is likely to play ~55 matches per season and potentially more than that depending on how they do in domestic cups and the Champions League or Europa League. Given the likelihood of a few key players picking up injuries, it’s only wise to have a fourth midfielder who can play important minutes in major league or European fixtures. (This is especially true if we continue to see Dier as the primary backup at center back as well.) So who are the options out there? I doubt Lemar would be in our price range whenever he looks to leave Monaco. But someone like him seems to be the right sort of player to look for. Ligue 1 also has a pretty good record on midfielders in recent years—N’Golo Kante is the obvious example, but the under-appreciated Idrissa Gueye also came from Ligue 1.

Thoughts? Hoddlers who watch Ligue 1, who has caught your eye?

On to the Links

Philipp Lahm is retiring.

Qatar is spending $500m per week on World Cup prep.

Chelsea’s thumping of Arsenal was all Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 and his mastering of Arsene Wenger in the tactical battle.