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In 2015 Tottenham nearly replaced Mousa Dembele with James McCarthy

Spurs were not sure about Dembele back in 2015 and were targeting James McCarthy.

Mathew Nash

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As Tottenham Hotspur prepare to take on Juventus in the Champions League this evening they do so with one player in particular in fantastic form. Belgian international Mousa Dembele has been thriving in the middle of the park for Spurs this season.

In the first leg, at Juventus, he ran the midfield and left pundits across Europe purring. Dembele, who is often referred to as Tottenham’s best player by his team-mates, is finally being recognised across the board as a world-class midfielder.

But back in the summer of 2015, things were very different. It seemed at the time that Tottenham were willing to sell Dembele, with Everton midfielder James McCarthy lined up as his replacement.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 25: Mousa Dembele of Tottenham Hotspur (R) breaks away from James McArthur of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on February 25, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

It was reported by the Telegraph that Chelsea were keen on Dembele that summer, with a fee of £12 million mooted. That was considered a shock move. In fact, it seemed more likely Sunderland or West Ham could be his next move, as reported by the Daily Star.

At the same time, Everton midfielder McCarthy had just had an excellent campaign at Goodison Park. He soon found himself linked with a £20 million switch to Spurs, who were known admirers of the Irishman, as reported by the Telegraph.

Now such talk seems ludicrous. Dembele has been one of the best performing midfielders in the Premier League, and Champions League, this season. The Belgian has cemented his place in the Tottenham side. Aside from Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris, Dembele is probably the first name on the Spurs teamsheet.

McCarthy’s career on the other hand has stalled since. He is currently out of action with a horrific leg break, just after finally coming back into the Everton team after being frozen out by Ronald Koeman. His lack of action under Koeman was not helped by more niggling injury trouble.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 13: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal goes past James McCarthy of Everton during the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Yet, in the summer of 2015, this seemed likely. Spurs were not yet sold on Dembele. He had struggled with injury trouble himself. In trying to fill the void left by a cult hero in Luka Modric, Dembele was always going to struggle. McCarthy on the other hand was the swashbuckling Everton star, who seemed to be man-of-the-match every time he played.

Three years later, and the idea Tottenham would sell Dembele for £12 million seems laughable.

Replace him with McCarthy?

Right now not many Spurs fans would replace their Belgian maestro with the man he replaced, Modric.

Hopefully Dembele can dominate Juventus’ midfield again this evening and continue to highlight his progression from three years ago.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Everton

£3m Roberto Martinez project Shani Tarashaj thrown on to Everton scrapheap

The Swiss talent has not developed into the star Everton’s former boss hoped he would.

Mathew Nash

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It appears as though Shani Tarashaj is finally on his way out of Everton for good. This morning he completed a loan move back to his former club Grasshoppers Zurich, with a view to a permanent move next summer.

With the potential of a permanent move to Grasshoppers, it would bring the curtain down on a move that simply never worked out.

Tarashaj joined Everton back in January 2016. Then Everton boss Roberto Martinez signed the attacking midfielder Shani Tarashaj from Grasshoppers with the fee involved, according to the Liverpool Echo, around £3 million.


“I feel he is going to bring something very, very special to us. He is probably the best young talent in Swiss football.

“There are a couple of young players with a good reputation but I think he could have really good future…I feel that he’s going to get fans off their feet. He’s that type of young talent that we like to attract to Goodison.” 

  – Roberto Martinez after signing Tarashaj


Tarashaj was loaned back to Grasshoppers until the end of the season. He continued his fine form, which saw him earn a first Swiss cap and make the national squad for Euro 2016.

(Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

But things quickly went wrong for Tarashaj.

Martinez was sacked, with Ronald Koeman clearly not fancying the Swiss star. A loan move in Germany went poorly. Eintracht Frankfurt snapped him up but he struggled with benign angina, severe tonsillitis and a knee ligament tear last summer compounded his misery.

Everton now face the fact they will likely lose Tarashaj next summer, without the 23-year-old ever playing a game for the club.

This £3 million gamble has clearly not paid off.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Now valued at £31.3m, Tottenham could have got Cengiz Under for £11.7m

Tottenham tried to sign the Roma winger last summer, but he headed to Italy.

Mathew Nash

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It seems that AS Roma winger Cengiz Under is a wanted man this summer. Manchester City are reportedly keen on the player, after an excellent debut season in Serie A. As reported by Calciomercato the Turkish international has a fond admirer in the form of City boss Pep Guardiola.

That has since seen his market value make the headlines. It is reported by Hurriyet that Under is valued at €35 million (£31.3 million). That report also suggests Tottenham are keen on the player. It seems unlikely and rather interesting timing, considering it came just hours after an opinion piece in the British press about Tottenham revisiting their previous interest.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Because Spurs were keen on the player last summer.

Ajanspor reported at one point that Tottenham were close to signing the player from Istanbul Basaksehir. However, he headed to Roma instead. The player himself spoke of why he decided on Italy over the UK.


“I was convinced after we heard Monchi’s plan. Monchi [Roma’s director of football] explained they were making big changes. He made it clear that he wanted me as a player for the first-team squad, not as a future prospect. He valued me as a footballer in my own right now, as a rising star with potential.”

Cengiz Under on why he chose Roma


Under has since gone on to have a great season in the Italian capital and has clearly caught the eye of other clubs.

The fee he joined Roma for was a bargain. The Giallorossi snapped up Under for a fee of just £11.7 million.

Tottenham must no doubt regret not managing to secure a deal for the player last summer. He was at a bargain price and proved to be a successful recruit.

If Tottenham want him again in the future, they are looking at paying double what they might have 12 months ago.

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Everton

Marco Silva should aim for Christian Kabasele reunion at Everton

The Belgian defender would be an astute addition for the Toffees.

Max Cohen

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Christian Kabasele
Photo: Getty Images

Everton are still without a signing this transfer window, but the side requires strengthening, nonetheless, especially in the centre-back position.

Marco Silva should target Christian Kabasele to bolster his defensive options, a player he knows well from his time managing at Watford.

Kabasele began his career in Belgium and enjoyed success at Genk before moving to Vicarage Road in the summer of 2016.

The centre-half has been capped once by Belgium, as he made the Euro 2016 squad and was cut at the last moment in the Red Devils’ World Cup 2018 team.

His international involvement and the fact he was even being considered in the star-studded Belgium set-up is a measure of his talent.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

At Watford, the defender bagged four goals in 44 appearances, illustrating his threat from set pieces.

He was also the most consistent performer at the back for the Hornets, eliciting praise from the Watford support.

Everton fans in particular will know the danger the Belgian poses, as Kabasele flicked home a powerful header at Goodison Park during a league meeting in November 2017.

Marco Silva knows the defender well, as he played in every league match when Silva was the manager, starting all but one.

And the Portuguese has praised the Belgian in the past, hailing his performance when talking with the Hertfordshire Mercury in 2017, after a 3-0 win at St. James’ Park.

“Kabasele was brilliant. He had a fantastic game. He improves every day. He had a very good game with and without the ball and even with offensive set-pieces he has improved.”

As Everton supporters wait for their first signing of the summer, the club would do well to target Christian Kabasele, a proven Premier League centre-back who is a favourite of the Toffees boss.

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