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New striker links, Bale for Downey and some bluntness from Harry

December 15, 2008

Harry Redknapp got blunt about Tottenham's progress.

Monday found Tottenham linked to a slew of strikers, some who are quickly becoming familiar to Spurs fans and others who are new names in the ever-expanding hunt for goals. Also, Harry Redknapp bluntly said that his team simply isn’t good enough to break into the top five, at least as it is currently made up.

Starting with the strikers, the link to Bordeaux’s Fernando Cavenghi, who is currently priced at £8 million, was linked with Tottenham again. The Argentinean striker’s 10 goals are good for the most in Ligue 1, in front of such luminaries as Karim Benzema, Jimmy Briand and Hatem Ben Arfa. Cavenghi would be an excellent addition to the Spurs’ strike corps and should definitely be a January target for Harry.

The other interesting striker link of the day was to Salzburg’s Marc Janko, who is currently leading Europe in goals, with 27 in 17 games played. Janko, who seems desperate for a move to England, said that Tottenham are his favorite club. Interestingly, Janko may be able to play the game on the European stage as he has performed well in international friendlies for Austria this year, netting goals against both Serbia and France. If Janko could be brought in as kind of a second-option striker in order to let him adapt to the Prem with the idea of him becoming a legitimate option next season, the move could be an excellent one. He is definitely worth the risk, especially if the price isn’t particularly high and White Hart Lane is where he wants to ply his trade.

Redknapp was also linked with a bid for Liverpool’s Ryan Babel, as the Dutch striker is believed to have asked for a loan move in the January window. Spurs will possibly bid between 7 or 8 million pounds for the frustrated forward, who has only started six times this season, in an effort to take advantage of Tom Hicks’ and George Gillet’s financial difficulties. This move probably won’t happen, as Rafa Benitez won’t want to sell a potential star, but Babel is definitely worth a bid.

The Michael Owen saga also continued on Monday, as Newcastle will reportedly offer their striker a contract extension that could drop his weekly pay as much as £25,000. Owen, who makes £80,000 right now, may not take well to this, thereby making it more likely for him to move on. This one merits following, still, even though it seems as if there are cheaper, younger options at striker than the injury-prone Owen out there.

The most interesting rumor of the day involved Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing, a transfer target of Redknapp’s. Reportedly, Gareth Southgate would ask for £15 million as well as youngster Gareth Bale for the winger. If Redknapp did that, it would be an astronomical overpay, as the English international is worth nothing more than £10 million and certainly not Bale, a defender/winger who was on his way to being a star until an injury last season that he is still struggling to come back from. If he manages to find his way, the young Welshman will be a more valuable player than Downing is. Hopefully, Redknapp realizes this and chooses to wait until Southgate’s demands come down. (Of course, the report comes from The Daily Mirror, so it is probably more valuable as toilet paper than newsprint, just like the next rumor.)

David Bentley also took up a spot in the potentially leaving category, this time as a possibly target for Mark Hughes’ Manchester City. Bentley has been a more-or-less disappointment at White Hart Lane thus far, but he has seemed to find some degree of his form under Redknapp and has one or two dangerous crosses a game. If City want to pay more for him than Spurs did (meaning overpay more than Spurs did), it could be a decent move, but I’d prefer for Bentley to find his form for Spurs.

Redknapp certainly stirred the pot a bit on Monday with several sets of comments. First, he spoke about how Spurs are having serious injury troubles for Thursday’s bout with Spartak Moscow, as Frazier Campbell has a torn calf muscle and won’t be ready for action, leaving Tottenham with Darren Bent as the only healthy or non-cup tied striker. According to Redknapp, winger John Bostock, 16, and defender Dean Parrett, 17, can expect to be called up from reserves, with Bostock likely receiving a start for the lilywhites. Fortunately, Spurs are likely to go through to the knockout stage no matter what their result is on Thursday as long as they don’t drop the game 4-0.

In a fit of bluntness, Redknapp said that he doesn’t believe that Arsenal can win the Premiership this year, something that is quickly becoming obvious as Arsenal drops further and further down the table and Chelsea and Manchester United continue to climb the table.

More interestingly, though, is what Redknapp said when asked about the state of the squad at a shareholders meeting on Monday. “It depends where you want to go and finish. If you’re talking about finishing fifth or in the top four, it’s well short of that. I’m not going to stand up here and lie to you. So far we’ve got the best out of what we have here but the squad is still well short of the top four and not as good as Aston Villa’s and other teams challenging to be up there. There’s a lot of work to do if we are going to get where we want to be,” said Redknapp.

This honesty, however rude it seems, may have been about getting money for the transfer window. Daniel Levy has stated that Spurs won’t be spending in January after outlaying a ton of money in the summer, but Redknapp clearly wants the side to be his own and not Damian Commolli’s/Juande Ramos’, meaning that he will be looking to spend in the winter window. His comments may have been designed to get funds for then as much as to set realistic expectations for the team and, as such, were probably a huge step forward for the normally overly optimistic Spurs’ fans. I approve.

Originally posted at White Hart Lunatic

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