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Injuries push Tottenham into last minute transfer window frenzy

August 30, 2009

Luka Modric fractured his fibula in a collision with Birmingham's Lee Bowyer yesterday.

Saturday’s win against Birmingham brought consternation to White Hart Lane Sunday, as Ledley King suffered a groin injury and Luka Modric fractured his right tibula in a collision with Lee Bowyer.

The injury to the tiny Croatian could have a more obvious effect, as Tottenham were basically running their offense through his creativity prior the his injury, but King’s injury could hurt the team more if he misses any time, as they are now down to exactly one fully healthy center back and he hasn’t even been with the club for a month yet. Reports on King’s injury are conflicting, though, with some sites saying he should be back by the Manchester United game two weeks from now and others saying that he has a torn groin muscle, which would obviously take more time to heal. If that’s the case, Tottenham would need to buy some cover for their central defense position, with Honduran Osman Chavez likely filling the role.

Modric is a more difficult situation, as he fractured his right tibula and, according to the club, will be in a walking boot for six weeks before returning to training. This suggests that the team needs to buy temporary cover while he recovers.

In the past 24 hours, Spurs have been linked with bids for versatile Real Madrid and Dutch Rafael Van der Vaaart, who hasn’t even been given a squad number this season despite his obvious skill level. Van der Vaart can play any one of the four midfield positions, so he could give Redknapp some intriguing options once Modric is healthy again. Out of all of the potential links, this one is one of the iffier ones, however, despite Van der Vaart’s refusal to move to Turkish side Besiktas in hopes of securing a transfer to the EPL.

Tottenham were interested in Arjen Robben and Klass-Jaan Huntelaar in Real Madrid’s casting off of their now-excess players already this year and neither one of those deals went through, so this one is probably just as unlikely. Besides, a team like Manchester United or Liverpool (ha) could come in at the last second and buy up a player of VDV’s quality. The other problem with Spurs buying him is that Van der Vaart would need to play somewhere and Tottenham is fast running out of opportunities in the midfield, as Aaron Lennon and Wilson Palacios aren’t going to be moved and the left midfield position goes away when Modric comes back. That leaves Tom Huddlestone’s position as the only open one on a week to week basis and Redknapp will probably not touch him as long as he plays as commandingly as he has the past couple of weeks.

It would be nice to have a playmaker of Van der Vaart’s obvious quality available, but he is a strong enough player that he really does need to play every week on a team that isn’t named Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Manchester United. Spurs have reported put in a €15 million bid for the Dutch international. If that works out, things could get very interesting.

Spurs are also constantly linked with Martin Petrov. That would be a last ditch option, as he is nowhere near as skilled as the other players that are being talked about and also extremely injury prone, meaning he won’t be able to consistently provide the expected production that Spurs would need out of him when asked.

The most likely move to happen (along with Sandro moving from Brazil in either this window or January’s to provide cover for Wilson Palacios in the midfield) is the reported £8 million bid for Portsmouth’s Niko Kranjcar and David James. If this move happens, Redknapp will have effectively transferred all of the offensive firepower and the starting keeper off of his Pompey squad to Spurs, which would be a remarkable feat likely increasing the squad’s already excellent chances at relegation.

Kranjcar knows Spurs strikers Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe, as well as Redknapp, from their time at Portsmouth and Vedron Corluka and Modric from the Croatian national team, meaning he would be able to acclimate himself rather quickly. The left winger is a bit more aggressive than Modric, going for the goal more than his tiny counterpart. The only problem with purchasing him is that he really doesn’t have a place once Modric is healthy again, but he is a free agent at the end of the year if Spurs don’t resign him.

The signing of James could unsettle Heurelho Gomes, who was just beginning to settle in before hurting his groin a couple of weeks ago. If Redknapp ensured Gomes, who has a much higher upside and ability to make the big saves than James, that he was the starter and James’ role was that of the level-handed backup, though, this move could pay huge dividends for the remainder of the season.

Redknapp may have an ulterior motive for all of these moves, however, as he may see this window as his last chance to spend legitimate money, in part due to Modric’s injury. In other words, ‘Arry probably assumes that Spurs will qualify for Europe in some capacity next year and doesn’t want to be caught as off guard and short on players as the team was last season. Assuming Spurs buy Van der Vaart, Kranjcar, James and Chavez, here are what next year’s lineups could look like, particularly if Spurs are involved in Europe.

Lineup A:
GK: Gomes
D: Corluka-King-Woodgate- Assou-Ekkotto
M: Lennon-Palacios-Van der Vaart?-Modric
S: Defoe-Crouch?

Lineup B:
GK:Gomes (James)
D: Hutton-Dawson-Bassong-Naughton (Bale)
M:Bentley-Huddlestone-Sandro-Kranjcar
S:Keane-Pavlyuchenko

Granted, the second lineup gets a bit thin in places (striker, in particular , but it is legitimately better than a lot of EPL teams and Redknapp could be going for that effect when some of his players need to be rested or saved for an important Europe fixture. The potential moves make so much more sense when looked at with the two lineup theory in mind, especially when one remembers that Redknapp has spoken admiringly of Manchester United’s ability to effectively have two separate lineups in the past.

The end of the transfer window is going to be fascinating on White Hart Lane. Hopefully this all works out for the best.

Originally posted at White Hart Lunatic

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