Despite the relative disappointment of Saturday’s 1-1 draw away at West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham have enjoyed a hugely promising start to the new Premier League season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side sit only six points back from top of the table Leicester City after 15 matchdays, and they are only three points off Manchester United who occupy the Premier League’s fourth and final Champions League qualification spot. This strong league position, combined with inconsistency of the traditional “top-four” and Chelsea’s implosion, mean that Tottenham are well placed to finish in a Champions League position for the first time since 2012.
14 - Tottenham Hotspur are unbeaten in 14 league games (W6 D8) – their best run in the top-flight since March 1985. Imperious.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 5, 2015
It remains clear, however, that Spurs need to recruit cover for Harry Kane in attack if they are to capitalize on this opportunity.
Kane is the one specialist center-forward in Tottenham’s squad and their leading goalscorer. Were the 22-year-old to become stricken with a long-term injury, it would be difficult to envisage the North Londoners maintaining the kind of form that has seen them go unbeaten in 14 league matches. This is something which Pochettino was open about when quizzed over what business the club might do when the transfer window reopens on January 1.
“We have offensive players who can play like Harry,” Pochettino said. “There is Son [Heung-min] or [Nacer] Chadli or Clinton [N’Jie] — they can play like a striker. But I recognize they are not specific strikers, so maybe we work to try to find such a player we can add in the next transfer window or in the summer.”
With only three weeks to go until Spurs can enter the transfer market in search of another striker, we take a look at three of the players who Pochettino is likely to target as cover for Kane.
- Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion, 22)
It was one of the summer’s longest running transfer sagas, and it ended in acrimony on deadline day with Berahino publicly stating that he would never again play for West Bromwich Albion chairman, Jeremy Peace, in protest at the club’s refusal to sell him to Tottenham.
The forward has inevitably had to row back on that stance, and while Berahino’s record of having scored only three goals in 11 league appearances hardly justifies the Baggies’ reported £25 million asking-price, it must be noted that WBA have only scored 14 in 15 matches this term and Berahino stands as their joint top-scorer.
More pertinently, the 22-year-old scored 20 in all competitions last season and the quick, intelligent forward player seems an ideal fit for Pochettino’s high-energy, pressing system. It is also notable that Berahino has been effectively deployed as a wide-attacker during his time at West Brom and could, therefore, partner Kane up-front.
Still, the Guardian’s David Hytner has given the impression that the relationship between Peace and his counterpart at Tottenham, Daniel Levy, may have deteriorated to the extent that a deal is no longer possible and WBA might now be keener on striking a deal with Chelsea who are rumored to have become interested in Berahino as a consequence of Diego Costa’s declining form.
- Timo Werner (Stuttgart, 19)
[Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images]
Another player who Tottenham tracked during the summer before electing to sign the more experienced Son Heung-min, Timo Werner could yet make a move to White Hart Lane in January should the Berahino deal prove unworkable.
The Germany Under 21 international became Stuttgart’s youngest ever player when making his debut in a Europa League qualifier in August 2013 (aged 17 years and 164 days) and he has since gone on to make more than 30 Bundesliga appearances in each of the last two seasons, scoring 10 goals.
The teenager is clearly a prodigious talent; however, the German newspaper Bild reported that the Swabians are willing to sell the youngster for a fee in the region of £10 million, and Werner would surely be keen to move to London given that his hometown club are just one point off bottom in the Bundesliga and barely dodged relegation last season.
Werner is clearly still a project player but his impressively imposing physique and blistering pace suggest that he possesses all of the raw materials required to be a success in the Premier League. Furthermore, the experience of players such as Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, Kane and Dele Ali attest to the fact that Pochettino is the most gifted developer of young players currently coaching in the top-tier of English football.
- Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim, 23)
[Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images]
At 23, Volland has perhaps not quite hit the heights that some commentators expected when he burst on to the scene as a teenager in Bundesliga with TSV 1860 Munich. The Marktoberdorf native scored 20 goals in 57 league matches for the Bavarian’s before moving to first division side Hoffenheim in the summer of 2012.
In Sinsheim, Volland has posted a solid 32 goals and 17 assists in 125 appearances in all competitions. While this record has not tempted Champions League level clubs such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to move for the forward’s signature, Volland is clearly a player of huge potential and Tottenham could be the club at which he progresses to the next level.
After all, Hoffenheim are currently bottom of the Bundesliga table, and Volland – a versatile, athletic, technically gifted attacker with a rocket of a left-boot – is still their top-scorer with five goals in 14 matches. The forward also won the Silver Boot award at the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship during the summer, and he has been capped five times as a senior international for Germany.
With Hoffenheim struggling, Volland would almost certainly be keen to earn a move away in January, and the huge financial power of Premier League clubs relative to their counterparts in the Bundesliga mean that Spurs would be strongly positioned to land him mid-season.
[Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images]