Javier Hernandez and James Milner are amongst the targets for Tottenham Hotspur as they look to make at least three quality additions in the summer.
When Gareth Bale was allowed to join Real Madrid for some £80million back in August, the only crumb of comfort for Tottenham fans was that this entire fee had pretty much already been reinvested into the first team squad. However, of the seven big-money signings made in the light of the departure of the influential Wales international, only Christian Eriksen and perhaps Vlad Chiriches have shown the quality required to succeed in England.
The biggest outlay was on Argentina international Erik Lamela, who arrived from Roma for a club record fee of around £30million. A back injury has restricted his involvement to just 17 appearances, in which he has scored just once, and the 22-year-old has already been linked with a return to Italy whilst his place at the World Cup Finals is also in doubt.
Much was expected of Roberto Soldado, but the £25million striker has struggled to find the back of the net without the aid of the penalty spot during his debut season in England. Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli, whilst all unquestionably good players, also face a battle to be given a second spell in the Premier League after failing to convince their employers or the supporters of their worth to the first team cause.
Of course, there is also doubt over who will actually be in charge of Spurs next term. Defeat to Arsenal on Sunday afternoon would virtually kill off their chances of a top-four finish, whilst the 3-1 UEFA Europa League last 16 first leg home defeat to Benfica means they are now likely to go a sixth successive campaign without silverware.
All this doesn’t bode well for Tim Sherwood, who was handed an 18-month contract following Andre Villas-Boas’ dismissal in December. There have already been suggestions that Louis van Gaal, the current Holland coach, will be approached after the World Cup Finals, and the 62-year-old has previously indicated an interest in the post.
“I will definitely not be in charge for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign,” the Dutchman said last month. “I don’t know where I will go next. Normally I go with my pension, and go to live in Portugal [where he owns a property], but maybe there will come a new challenge. I have said before that a challenge should be a club in the Premier League. That’s a challenge. Maybe Tottenham are coming but, first, we have to go to Brazil.”
The uncertainty around who will be head coach next season doesn’t appear to have had halted plans for summer recruitment, though, with Ian Broomfield reappointed as chief scout from under the noses of Arsenal earlier this month. And the Daily Telegraph claims chairman Daniel Levy and technical director Fabio Baldini have already discussed potential targets, with the emphasis seemingly on experienced Premier League options.
It is believed Manchester United striker Hernandez, who David Moyes considers to be fourth in the pecking order behind Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Daniel Welbeck, is amongst the top wants. The Mexico international has proven he can score goals at the highest level, with 57 goals to his name since he arrived in England four years ago, despite many of his appearances coming from the substitute bench.
The 25-year-old still has two years left on his contract at Old Trafford, but it has been widely reported that he is disappointed with the lack of first team opportunities he has received this season. To date, Hernandez has started just 10 times in all competitions this term, yet tellingly only four in the Premier League and two in the UEFA Champions League.
Whilst shopping in Manchester, Spurs could also pop into the Etihad Stadium to ask about the potential availability of Milner. Whilst the England international is likely to play a part in Manchester City’s push for a second Premier League title in three years, over half of his outings this campaign have come from the bench, and he was an unused substitute in the League Cup final win despite starting three times in the earlier rounds. Out of contract in the summer of 2015, if he doesn’t sign a new deal during the coming months, the 28-year-old midfielder could be available for a knockdown price during the window.
Other reported targets for Tottenham include Dnipro winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, who was close to joining Liverpool in the New Year only for Dnipro to pull the plug on the deal in the closing stages of deadline day. And West Ham United defender Winston Reid, a New Zealand international, is also thought to have caught the eye and, like Milner, will enter the final 12 months of his existing contract during the summer weeks.
Meanwhile, in what is likely to be a busy summer at White Hart Lane, the failure to quality for the Champions League could result in transfer requests from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and defender Jan Vertonghen. Both players, though, remain tied to the club until 2016, and Levy would only consider selling either if substantial bids were tabled.