Football Features

Three ways Tottenham could line up after the transfer window

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:31, 13 June 2024

Tottenham Hotspur are preparing for the second season of the Ange Postecoglou era.

It was an interesting first campaign for the Australian in the Premier League. Things started off very well and Tottenham looked to be competing for the Premier League title but eventually they fell away.

The north London club did still qualify for the Europa League, however. So when looking at their squad this summer, they will have to factor in the extra matches.

The question is, how can Tottenham strengthen?

Dream

The dream position for Tottenham has to be a striker. They didn’t replace Harry Kane last summer and there was a fall off when it came to goals. Sure, Son Heung-min upped his scoring game slightly, but as a whole the club failed to match Kane’s exploits.

There a handful of strikers catching the eye in the transfer window, with Alexander Isak probably the best option. He’s young and has Premier League experience, so there’s room for more growth. The Swede scored 21 goals in the Premier League last season, with only Erling Haaland (26) and Cole Palmer (22) netting more.

Isak also ranked in the top five for goals from open play (14), penalties scored (five), big chances scored (19), Expected Goals (20.29) and Expected Goals on Target (22.78). Isak would spearhead Tottenham’s attack, which means the likes of Richarlison, Son, Dejan Kulusevski and Brennan Johnson will fight for wing roles.

But what if another name was thrown into the hat? Tottenham are also being linked with a move for Eberechi Eze. Now, Eze may have been picked over James Maddison for the England squad, but they wouldn’t really contest for the same position at Tottenham. Maddison would lock down the No.10, pushing Eze out to the left, with Son on the right.

Eze did play for 594 minutes on the left flank for Crystal Palace, scoring three goals in that role in his final six games of the 2023/24 campaign. He ended the season with 11 goals and four assists for Palace, with 54 chances created and 69 take-ons completed.


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Moving further back, Amadou Onana is another name to have been linked with a move to Tottenham, with these reports very fresh. A midfielder with a lot of promise, ability and potential suitors, Tottenham would have a fight on their hands to get the 22-year-old Belgian. He made 71 tackles in the 2023/24 Premier League, winning possession 84 times in the middle third. A midfield disruptor, Onana would work well having someone like Rodrigo Bentancur alongside him to move further up the pitch.

At the back Tottenham do feel the most settled. With a full season under his belt, unhindered by injury, Micky van de Ven could become a top Premier League centre-back. He had a very good first season with Tottenham and it’s surely only up for the Dutchman. Cristian Romero looks to have calmed down slightly under Ange Postecoglou and is a good centre-back partner for Van de Ven.

On the flanks, Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie are first-choice, while Guglielmo Vicario is competent goalkeeper.

Realistic

If we’re going by bookmaker’s odds, Eze is also a realistic signing for Tottenham at Evens with Sky Bet to join this summer. So we’ll fit him into this team too, keeping him on the left with Maddison as the No.10.

Like Tottenham as a whole, Maddison started the 2023/24 campaign well but his season was only derailed by injury. By his own admission, Maddison didn’t hit the heights upon his return, with the Englishman saying after missing out on the England squad: “Trained well and worked hard all week but if I’m honest with myself, my form for Spurs when coming back from injury in the second half of the season probably wasn’t at the levels I had set which gave Gareth a decision to make.”

But he still ended the season with 13 direct goal involvements and 67 chances created, the latter at an average of 2.8 per 90 minutes. And in this XI, Son takes the striking role, with Morgan Gibbs-White on the right. Like Eze, Gibbs-White plays as the No.10 but wouldn’t displace Maddison. However, also like Eze he has time on the wing, playing on the right for 821 minutes for Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.


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Further back, another man being chased by Tottenham is Conor Gallagher. The Englishman is a top presser, winning possession 39 times in the final third last season, the second-most in the Premier League. He also won possession in the middle third 99 times and would sit well alongside Yves Bissouma.

Again, there wouldn’t be much to change about the defence, but Tottenham do have some things to get in order. First of all, what do they do with Radu Dragusin? The January arrival didn’t play too much after signing from Genoa, though did slot in at centre-back a few times. This was to allow Van de Ven to play left-back with Destiny Udogie injured.

However, Van de Ven did struggle at left-back, still playing with a centre-back’s mind and defending too narrow — opening up space for opposition wingers to roam. Right-footed, there is a chance that Dragusin could become Van de Ven’s partner should Romero leave, but it doesn’t feel like Tottenham are ready for that just yet.

Wildcard

And finally, our wildcard choice. When going through strikers he would like Tottenham to look at, former captain Ledley King name dropped Evan Ferguson.

The Irishman had a quiet season when it came to time on the pitch, playing 1,365 minutes across his 27 appearances, with 15 starts in the Premier League. He started the campaign well with four goals in his opening four games and six in his first 12, including a hat-trick against Newcastle. Let’s not forget, he’s still a teenager. Since making his Premier League debut in February 2022, Ferguson has averaged 0.46 goals per 90 minutes, from 2.66 shots per 90 with an average xG of 0.38.

Then, Tottenham could look to Nottingham Forest once more, only this time for an actual winger. According to reports, Callum Hudson-Odoi has been on the radar of Tottenham, after his first season at Nottingham Forest. The Englishman joined Forest from Chelsea on a permanent deal having come through the Blues’ academy, failing to impress while on loan at Bayer Leverkusen.

At the City Ground, Hudson-Odoi scored eight goals last season, 16.3% of Forest’s total league tally. That averaged out as 0.39 goals per 90 minutes, with 0.46 direct goal involvements, from 1.84 shots and 1.75 chances created. He also averaged 2.09 take-ons completed per 90 minutes and 2.48 possessions won in the defensive third, doing his bit to help at the back.

In midfield, Postecoglou did try out the pairing of Pape Sarr and Rodrigo Bentacur at times, so that could be an option.

At the back, it’s hard to suggest any changes to what may be a settled defence. But Riccardo Calafiori could be an option.

Whether Romero is dropped or allowed to leave, amid reports of interest from abroad, Calafiori could be a good alternative. There is something slightly unorthodox in playing two left-footed centre-backs alongside each other, but Calafiori and Van de Ven could be the future.

Calafiori was part of a Bologna defence that conceded just 32 goals in Serie A last season, with only Juventus (31) and Inter Milan (22) letting in fewer. Their defence was at the heart of Bologna qualifying for the Champions League. And at the heart of the defence was Calafiori.

The 22-year-old made 74 clearances in Serie A last season and won 60 of his 84 aerial duels. He ranked fourth in Serie A for possessions won in the defensive third (107) while he also stepped forward to win possession in the middle third 81 times. Calafiori also ranked in the top 20 for passes attempted and completed, with an average of 83.69 touches per 90 minutes.