A Big Chance Missed in Madrid
Many will feel that Spurs blew their best-ever chance of winning the Champions League. Even getting to the final is a huge ask. The great Barcelona haven’t achieved it in four years, Bayern haven’t in six, and for all their wonderful domestic exploits, Man City have never managed it.
But the truth is Spurs were incredibly fortunate to get that far. They needed an unlikely draw in Barcelona to even get out of the group stages, benefited from a late VAR decision going their way at the Etihad Stadium to knock out Man City and left it late in Amsterdam with Lucas Moura’s hat-trick rescuing them from elimination at the hands of Ajax’s exciting young side.
So they bottled it, or they were extremely lucky to be there in the first place, depending on your perspective.
One thing is for sure: A Champions League final or a proper challenge on the domestic front are pretty unlikely in 2019/20.
Poch Staying Put
At least Mauricio Pochettino is unlikely to be going anywhere. If he was to jump ship, the most likely time to have done so was when Real Madrid sacked Julian Lopetegui, and the Real hot seat was available before Lopetegui was first replaced by Santiago Solari, and then by the returning Zinedine Zidane. That’s the job he might have most been tempted to take.
He may also have been interested in the chance to be the kingpin at Old Trafford, though. When Jose Mourinho was given the sack, and the Manchester United hierarchy were deciding whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was their man in the long term, it’s not inconceivable that had Pochettino shown some interest; he may have been in serious contention for it. But that’s all in the past now.
Spurs Might be Ready to Cash in on Eriksen
It may be a different story for Christian Eriksen, though. Having just completed his sixth season for the Lilywhites, yet another very solid one, he may just decide that he needs a new challenge.
“If I have to go, then hopefully it will be a step up,” Eriksen said about his future last week. “I hope there will be a clarification during the summer. That’s the plan. I feel that I am a place in my career where I might want to try something new.”
Hardly the words of a man desperate to put pen to paper, sign a new deal and commit himself to his present club till the end of his career.
The thinking is that Spurs may want to cash in on a player who is probably at his peak in terms of transfer value.
With Zidane now back in charge, Eden Hazard a Madrid player as of last week and other high-profile signings surely following, you can see why Eriksen would fancy the change.
It’s a tough situation for Spurs to be in honestly. On the one hand, the money could fund one or two big-name signings, on the other hand, they’d find the stylish Dane particularly hard to replace. After all, experienced internationals with brilliant passing skills, a deadly delivery from set pieces and a player who can come up with 10 or more goals a season are hardly two-a-penny. And they certainly don’t have anyone at the club already with his skillset.
Another one on the move could be Kieran Trippier. He may have racked up plenty of assists as Fantasy Football managers will be only too aware of, but he came under plenty of criticism for his defending. It resulted in him being dropped by England boss Gareth Southgate less than a year after scoring a free-kick in a World Cup semi-final. Apparently, Juventus, Napoli and Atletico Madrid would all be keen for his signature.
At least there would be a natural successor for him already at the club if he did go. Kyle Walker-Peters impressed in the few chances he had to show what he could do and at 22, is a more appealing long-term solution in that right-back role.
Less likely is an exit for Harry Kane. So far, the England skipper has shown no signs of wanting out, happy to stick and be top dog at a club he knows so well rather than twisting and trying his luck in pastures new. There would be no shortage of interest of course, but with plenty of money banked courtesy of that run to the Champions League final and a lot more if they decide to sell Eriksen, only a desire from Kane to leave would force Daniel Levy’s hand.
Fulham Youngster, Goalscoring Argentine Midfielder…
There’s reported interest in Nicolò Zaniolo, the young Roma midfielder, who had an impressive season and, at just 19, has already played twice for Italy.
They’ve also been monitoring the progress of Giovani Lo Celso. The Argentine midfielder scored a hugely impressive nine goals in just 32 appearances for Betis this season and would be a ready-made replacement for Eriksen if the Dane were to leave.
A big-money offer would probably be too tempting for either club to turn down. It’s also not beyond the realms of possibility that they could try to sign both.
Another credible possibility would be talented Fulham youngster Ryan Sessegnon. With the Cottagers relegated, the chance to stay in London at a far bigger club might just be a case of the stars being aligned. Pochettino would welcome his versatility. Much like Gareth Bale all those years ago, he can operate as an attacking left-back or an out-and-out winger.
But there’s not much else to speak of right now in terms of possible signings.
It Could be a Quiet Season at White Hart Lane
All in all, it could mean a season of transition at Spurs.
Having famously not made any signings in either of the last two transfer windows and not having lost anyone of note either, there could be some significant changes among the playing staff this summer.
That, of course, means new partnerships need to be formed, new systems experimented with and a period where the results aren’t as important as the progress being made.
On the domestic front, the odds of 14/1 quoted at Marathonbet on Spurs winning their first-ever Premier League title tells you all you need to know. That is shorter than Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal and that says more about the demise of that trio than it does about Spurs’ improvement.
With Man City odds-on to defend their title and Liverpool roughly a quarter of Spurs’ odds, it would be some upset if they went on to win the league.
In Europe, Real Madrid should be far more dangerous this time round, and Man City are sure to go close again. And that’s without even mentioning the usual suspects such as Juventus, Barcelona and Liverpool. The more pragmatic Spurs fan would surely settle for a quarter-final exit.
A win in either of the domestic Cups could, therefore, be their best chance of silverware in what could be a season for patience and understanding rather than raw optimism.
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