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Tottenham: Utility-man wanted; youngsters ‘must come good’ says journalist; Pochettino on January spending

It wouldn’t feel like the run up to a transfer window if there wasn’t a top six Premier League club under the microscope of player speculation, but Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs have had to put up with quite a lot of that of late.

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The latest to be linked with a move away is Tottenham’s 22-year old utility man Eric Dier, who despite having established himself as a mainstay in the England squad has failed to make such an impact at club level this season, and is according to The Times reportedly becoming less content with the amount of game-time he is getting under Mauricio Pochettino this campaign.

A report in the Daily Star expands upon this discontent even further, suggesting that the midfielder is concerned that being constantly in and out of the side will hinder his England prospects under new Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

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Dier had started Tottenham’s first six games of the season, but lost his place after picking up a muscle injury. He was an unused substitute in Sunday’s defeat at Old Trafford, despite having featured in the previous week’s 5-0 win over Swansea, with Pochettino opting to play Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele in midfield instead.

The report, quoting The Times, goes on to speculate that Dier’s situation is attracting interest from other clubs, including Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and more notably, London rivals Chelsea.

Antonio Conte is thought to be keen to add to his midfield options at Stamford Bridge, seeking out versatile players who are also capable of playing in his back three. Meanwhile German champions Bayern, who had an approach for Dier rejected last summer, could make a second move for the defender/midfielder.

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Tottenham are thought to be reluctant to sell Dier, having paid £4million to sign him from Sporting Lisbon in 2014, and it is unlikely that the player himself would try to force through a move as early as January.

Elsewhere, the London Evening Standard has published fascinating report, which has dissected Tottenham’s policy of bringing through young players and labelled it as vital to the club’s cause, particularly with their £750million new stadium project needing to be paid for.

The author of the report, the Standard’s Tom Collomosse, claims that funding the new stadium and remaining financially competitive is the key reason why Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has declared that the club must find ‘creative’ ways of improving the side.

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Spurs are hoping to move into their new ground at the start of the 2018-19 campaign, and are likely to fulfil next season’s home fixtures with a temporary move into Wembley Stadium. In the years after they do move into their new ground, the report claims that Pochettino believes Tottenham can become “one of the best clubs in the world”.

Before then, though, there will always be a financial gap between them and the Premier League’s wealthier clubs. In order to compete therefore, the report claims that Pochettino accepts Spurs must keep their best players, “take risks” in the transfer market and, the most key aspect in Collomosse’s view, to produce players of their own.

Pochettino has been praised during his time at both Spurs and former club Southampton for handing first-team opportunities to players who have come through the Spurs youth system. Yet Harry Kane is the only one who has established himself fully in the first team since Pochettino’s arrival in the summer of 2014.

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Though Collomosse writes that the time now looks to have come for another Harry in the Spurs ranks to follow in the footsteps of Kane. Harry Winks, a 20-year-old midfielder, appears to have the technique, intelligence and maturity to break through just as his predecessor has done. But of course, such judgements must be made with consideration, for Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and, to a lesser extent, Tom Carroll were all given chances in the team without becoming key men for Pochettino, and were subsequently discarded. However, Collomosse writes that those closest to Spurs’ newest prospect are convinced that he has what it takes to excel in the first-team, and he highlights that the ‘Harry Winks effect’ must come good for Spurs, and their young players must begin to prove their worth if they are to improve their team in a cost-effective manner.

Winks, who could feature in Spurs’ Premier League clash at home to Hull on Wednesday night, told the London Evening Standard: “I’ve been in and around the first-team squad for the last two-and-a-half seasons. Since this manager arrived, he has integrated a few of us into the first-team squad but he has done so slowly.

“The most important thing — as he has told us — is not to give us too much, too soon. It is nice to get opportunities, as is happening at the moment.

“I’ve always had confidence. I like to dictate the tempo of a match. I like to get as many touches and make as many passes as I can. There’s no player on whom I model my game but there are many I admire — Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, Andres Iniesta, Xavi. You try to take bits from everyone.”

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Winks has already gotten off the mark for his club in the few opportunities he has had, netting the equaliser in a 3-2 win over West Ham in November. His progress is being monitored with a view to inclusion in the England senior squad if his rapid development continues, but the road to success is not easy one for homegrown players at top Premier League clubs. Those fighting for Champions League football try not only to sign the best senior players in Europe but the best from the academies also.

The chances for a homegrown youngster from nearby Hemel Hempstead are slimmer than they were in the past. Yet in Winks, Collomosse believe that Spurs  have a player with the self-confidence and personality to overcome such obstacles, and for the good of the club, he and other youngsters must make their mark.

Finally, a report by the Daily Mail quotes Mauricio Pochettino as saying that the January transfer window will not offer any quick fixes to the gaps in his side. The transfer market reopens in two and a half weeks but there is some uncertainty within the Spurs hierarchy.

Head of Recruitment Paul Mitchell is serving a 16-month notice period as the club searches for a successor, and international scout Ian Broomfield, who rejoined the club setup from Queens Park Rangers in 2014, was released last week after seeing out his contract.

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This, coupled with the financial weight of their Premier League rivals and their own constraints through their stadium project, renders this latest transfer window a potentially difficult one for Tottenham as they seek an immediate return to the Champions League.

“It’s not about money, it’s how you invest the money,” said Pochettino.

“The market is crazy. You can see how the value of players has increased. You need to be clever. You need to be imaginative and creative and try to fight for good players at a very good price.”

“With the new stadium Tottenham will be one of the best teams in the world, for sure. But now we need to be creative. The challenge is to be clever and to take risks.”

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In 2015 Spurs’ most thrifty piece of business was the £5m signing of Dele Alli from Milton Keynes Dons, who has since become a big hit at White Hart Lane. Business undertaken in the transfer window this most recent summer however, has come under heavier criticism. They failed in their pursuit of signing Spanish international midfielder Isco from Real Madrid yet remain an interested party, but also spent £70m on four players, with only one of them, Victor Wanyama making an impact in the first-team.

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£30million record signing Moussa Sissoko looks to be a flop, and Dutch international striker Vincent Janssen, an £18.5m buy from AZ Alkmaar, has struggled to adjust to English football and is now out until the New Year with an ankle problem.

21-year-old Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, a £9m recruit from Marseille, has been used sparingly and represents the sort of creative risk Spurs will have in mind.

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Pochettino said: We cannot be unfair with N’Koudou. It’s difficult to assess him so early. We need to give him more time and he needs to show his real quality and build his confidence.”

Head of Recruitment Mitchell, who was brought to White Hart Lane in 2014 at Pochettino’s recommendation, resigned in August and was ordered to serve his notice by club chairman Daniel Levy. He is unlikely to serve his entire notice period until December of next year, but Pochettino expects him to remain with the club for another six months.

“He will be working with us until the end of the season,” said the Spurs boss.

It is difficult to find a replacement. It is not his decision to sign players, it is the club. But with him or without him, it is always difficult to sign players in January.

“The most important thing is to improve our level of performance. Our results and numbers are in line with the same stage last season but we need to be more aggressive, to play more like a team and show more intensity.

“Maybe the feeling is that we are not playing as we did last season but the challenge is more than just signing players in January.”

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Ryan West.

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