|Paulinho: Hands up if you hate Ars*nal...|
The transfer will be the first under the reinstated Sporting Director structure since Franco Baldini's appointment last month. We are led to believe that although Daniel Levy still has his hands controlling the purse strings, his day-to-day role of runninng of the football-side of the club will now be handed to Baldini, allowing him to attend to more personal matters on the other side of the Atlantic, notably his wife's current ill health.
Anyhow, getting business done early in pre-season is a real statement of intent by Levy. No doubt bitterly disappointed at not achieving the ultimate fouth place in the Premier League and Champions League qualification, the snippets coming out of WHL during the close season indicates Levy wants Spurs to hit the ground running this season, especially with the visit to deadly rivals Ars*nal coming so soon at the end of August.
The imminent arrival of Paulinho suggests that AVB will be looking to play a more fluid 4-3-3 system, as opposed to the 4-5-1 which was enforced by the most part last season on key injuries.
A midfield trio of Paulinho alongside the technically gifted Belgian Dembele and the Brazillian workhorse Sandro is a mouth-watering prospect. Until Christmas and the New Year, Spurs were flying last season. The key turning point was the serious knee ligament injury suffered by Sandro against QPR which ruled him out for the rest of the season.
Parker replaced Sandro but didnt have the same telepathic understanding with Dembele and sadly lacked the class of the young Brazillian. Dembele lost his freedom to play further up the pitch and his role in the side became a deeper, withdrawn one, although the tactical move did free up space for Bale centrally. One only has to think back to the opening 20 minutes of Tottenham's last trip to Old Trafford when Sandro and Dembele orchestrated a first away win at OT for the first time in decades.
I think everyone would admit that midfield really wasnt the priority this pre-season. The forward positions are. I still believe, like many others, that Levy's faliure in January 2013 to bring in a forward was a key reason why we failed to achieve the coveted Champions League qualification. Fingers could be pointed at the mundane performances of Adebayor, the unfortunate injuries to Defoe and Bale at key times but the front positions are definitely what Levy and Baldini should be focusing on.
Rumours persist that Barcelona's David Villa is available and talks have taken place between Levy and the Nou Camp hierarchy. If the ITK is to be believed, a deal is done and will be announced shortly. I'll believe it when I see it. Although he is a quality player, although now the wrong side of 30, is he the right man to lead the line? I'm not sure he is. He's a goal scorer but he doesnt lead the line. When you think of the way Barcelona play, Villa always drifted left or right, creating the space in the middle for Messi. Can Spurs utilize Bale in the same way? Would 4-3-3 work in the Premier League?
Can I suggest an alternative? Its difficult. As much as I want Spurs to progress, I also dont want to see Spurs break the bank and risk the club's long-term future. The press has suggested the likes of Aston Villa's Benteke. He's had one season in the Premier League and a transfer fee of £20m in being talked of. He could be a one-season wonder but then thats the risk you take as a football club. I really wouldnt like to be in Levy's or Baldini's shoes.