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Tottenham’s handling of ‘unsettled’ players could be unnecessarily costing the club

Spurs’ policy of dealing with unsettled players could be proving counterproductive.

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Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur is not among the richest clubs in world football.

This statement should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the club as the Lilywhites are not renowned for a lavish player spending policy.

As Tottenham build their new stadium and continue to progress under Mauricio Pochettino, their status as a football club is quickly changing.

The on-field changes are happening at the same pace as the off-field developments. As the status of the club and its players rises, the footballers responsible for this progress will expect their wages to rise accordingly.

This is not always possible, with Toby Alderweireld the latest to come into conflict the club, reportedly unhappy over contract negotiations. The Belgian follows teammate Danny Rose, who voiced concerns over wages and the club’s investment in transfers during an exclusive interview with The Sun.

Likewise, Kyle Walker reportedly doubled his weekly salary when he made the move from White Hart Lane to the Etihad last summer.

Nonetheless, while the wage structure at Tottenham is a well-documented concern for the club’s long-term success, there is an underlying cause for concern at the club: the sidelining of the those who are reportedly ‘unsettled’.

Alderweireld has been out injured for a large portion of the season. However, he is now seemingly back and match-fit. Despite Pochettino’s recent assertions that he is being left out due to the form of his centre-back teammates, he has not been handed a Premier League start since he returned to fitness in January.

The defender started games for his national side during the recent international break, only to not even be named on the bench against Chelsea on Easter Sunday or the club’s more recent victory over Stoke City.

Many have argued Pochettino may not want to risk the defender. However, teammate Harry Kane played in the last 15 minutes despite suggestions that he would be a World Cup doubt less than three weeks ago.

(Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Player policy

If Toby Alderweireld has lost his place due to the contract conflict it will follow a worrying trend of Pochettino’s treatment of players who have “stepped out of line”.

Former defender Kyle Walker reportedly stated his intention to leave the club mid title race last season. The now Manchester City player was way out of line and he should’ve been punished.

On the flipside, if punishing him weakens the team then is it in the clubs interests to punish him?

Following the reported altercation, the English fullback started just one of the remaining five games. Walker still made team of the year that season but Pochettino preferred Kieran Trippier during the closing weeks of the season.

A similar situation has happened to fellow full-back Danny Rose this season. Following the England international’s public condemnation of the clubs transfer policy in an interview with The Sun, he has started only six Premier League games all season.

Rose has had an injury at the start of the season. The English man has been fit since around November but has rarely featured. Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies are both good, solid players. However, compared to last seasons PFA team of the season’s full-back choices, they shouldn’t be getting in the starting-XI.

Davison Sanchez is a better alternative to Alderweireld than Trippier and Davies are to Walker and Rose. However, can any team really afford to lose their best full backs or centre-back, players widely heralded the best in their positions in the Premier League?

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Pochettino’s dilemma

In the case of Alderwerield and Rose, both have fallen out of favour during a World Cup year. It not in their interests to not give 100% for the club. Both players must ensure they are fit and in form to make their respective nations world cup squads.

Regardless, if they play or not they still get paid. If they are not contributing on the pitch then who is benefiting from this policy from Pochettino? The most likely rationale for this strategy is the club sending out a clear message as to how ” troublemakers” will be treated.

The major flaw in this plan is how would a Harry Kane be treated? Every other Tottenham player has a close replacement in terms of style or ability except for Kane. Llorente is the only other natural striker in the Tottenham first-team and the Spaniard struggles to make the squad most weeks.

Winger Heung Min Son was preferred to the former Swansea man during Kane’s recent injury. If Kane, or someone as irreplaceable, gets in a similar position, does Pochettino bench a 25+ goal a season striker in favour of a winger, or does he make himself a hypocrite?

Tottenham Hotspur

Salomon Rondon would be ideal back-up for Harry Kane and Tottenham

Josh Kerr

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Salomon Rondon
Photo: Getty Images

According to reports from the Daily Mirror, Tottenham Hotspur are interested in adding West Bromwich Albion‘s Salomon Rondon to their attacking ranks.

The recently relegated striker will be hoping to stay in the Premier League and Mauricio Pochettino can ensure that happens for the Venezuela international.

Harry Kane has been a revelation once again for the Lilywhites firing 30 league goals this season and was also nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award.

However, Pochettino has still not found a suitable back-up for the Englishman and is already looking for another replacement.

Fernando Llorente was signed from Swansea last season after Vincent Janssen failed to make an impact in north London.

However, the 33-year-old striker could not improve on his 15 goal tally for the Swans that kept them in the top flight a year ago.

The Spanish forward has one goal in 16 Premier League appearances for Spurs and it’s understandable that Pochettino already wants a replacement.

Rondon would not be a signing that should get fans excited by any means.

After all, he does not represent a world-class striker in the slightest and, similarly to Llorente, he has spent the majority of his Premier League career scrapping at the bottom end of the table.

Despite finishing rock bottom in the league this campaign, Rondon was one of those who emerged from the season with some credibility, scoring 10 goals in all competitions for the Baggies.

The Baggies forward is a striker who has often looked isolated and lacking options in a West Brom side that has struggled to get the best out of him.

In a flourishing Spurs team, his Premier League goal tally, of 24, could steadily improve.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Rondon has a relegation release clause in his contract that can see him leave the Midlands side for a reported fee of £16.5 million.

This may be off-putting for Spurs fans as the fee is not cheap considering the Venezuelan’s lack of firepower.

However, at 28, he is five years younger than Llorente and would only cost £2 million more than the fee they paid for the Spaniard, so it’s not the worst transfer when wanting more attacking options.

There’s no doubt that Llorente has struggled at Wembley this season and at 33, Levy may be tempted to move the former Juventus striker on and refresh his forward line.

A club of Spurs’ stature will always be linked with bigger names, but Rondon could still be a smart appointment for the Londoners.

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Stoke City

Three key areas for Gary Rowett to address at Stoke City over the summer

Martyn Cooke

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On Tuesday evening Stoke City announced that Gary Rowett had been appointed as their new manager.

The 44-year-old replaces Paul Lambert, who departed the club following relegation from the Premier League, and now faces the task of building a team capable of making an immediate return to the top-flight.

Rowett led Derby County to the Championship play-offs this season, ultimately losing out to Fulham, and is regarded as one of the brightest, young British managers in the country. Stoke were previously linked with the former Burton Albion and Birmingham City manager in January and have reportedly paid around £2 million in compensation to secure his services.

However, whilst the Potters may possess a superior budget to many of their counterparts in the Championship an immediate return to the Premier League is certainly not guaranteed. The playing squad requires a dramatic overhaul during the summer and the second tier of English football is notoriously unpredictable and competitive.

Here, The Boot Room highlights three key areas that Rowett must address in order to revive Stoke’s fortunes.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Convince big-name players to stay

When a club is relegated from the Premier League they normally undergo a rapid fire sale of their best players in order to reduce the wage bill and balance the books.

However, that is not necessarily the case with Stoke. The Potters are in a solid financial position and are funded by Peter Coates, owner of online betting company Bet365, who is a local entrepreneur and has the club’s best intentions at heart.

The first task for Rowett will be to try and convince some of Stoke’s star assets to remain at the Bet365 Stadium and lead a promotion challenge.

Whilst figures such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Jack Butland are almost certainly likely to depart the club during the summer, there are others that might be tempted to stay put.

Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer have already tentatively suggested that they might be willing to remain whilst Rowett should also focus on keeping hold of other key figures such as Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Badou Ndiaye.

Stoke will be more capable of building a squad capable of challenging for promotion if Rowett can convince some of the key figures in the squad to stay.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Get things right in the transfer market

One key factor in Stoke’s downfall over the previous two years has been the club’s horrendous transfer policy.

It is amazing to think that the Potters have spent £12 million on Saido Berahino, who has yet to score a goal for the club, £18 million on Kevin Wimmer, who was demoted to the under-23 squad for much of the season, and a further £18.3  million on Giannelli Imbula, who spent the year on loan in France.

Quite simply, Rowett cannot afford to make similar, costly mistakes as he overhauls the team during the summer.

The club need to move away from so-called ‘big name’ players who have little affection for the club, such as Jese Rodriguez, and ageing stalwarts that are entering the twilight of their careers, such as Darren Fletcher. Stoke need to build a young, hungry and dynamic team that are motivated, driven and still have everything to prove.

However, that is certainly easier said than done.

Rowett will be handed a significant transfer budget, which will be further increased by players sales, to build a team capable of securing promotion and he needs to ensure that the money is spent much more wisely than it has been in the recent past.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Re-discover Stoke’s identity

Over the previous two years Stoke have gradually lost their idiosyncratic identity – much to the detriment of the club. The Potters have always been at their best when they have a clear identity, philosophy and direction.

Under Tony Pulis, Stoke were characterised as a hard working, well organised team that employed a direct style of football that relied on transferring the ball into the opponents eighteen yard box as often as possible. It was not to everyone’s taste, but it was effective and supporters knew exactly what they were going to get.

Mark Hughes altered that identity and built a team that was characterised by foreign flair, technical brilliance and a possession-based style of play. Three consecutive top half finishes followed and the media referred to the club as ‘Stoke-a-lona’ in reference to the team’s new style of play.

It was when Hughes began to move away from that definitive identity that the Potters lost all sense of direction.

It is vital that Rowett implements his own footballing philosophy and creates a clear, definitive identity that the Stoke supporters can unite behind. The philosophies of Pulis and Hughes probably sit at extreme, contrasting ends of the spectrum and the 44-year-old may be aiming to find the middle ground that balances hard work, discipline and creativity.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham fans react to latest Mousa Dembele contract setback

Josh Kerr

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Mousa Dembele
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According to the Evening Standard, Mousa Dembele’s agent claims the Belgian international will not sign a new contract with Tottenham Hotspur before the summer World Cup.

The 30-year-old is set to enter the final year of his Spurs contract, which expires on June 30 next year, and the club’s supporters are understandably growing impatient.

According to earlier reports by the MirrorMauricio Pochettino is ready to listen to offers for the likes of Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Moussa Sissoko.

Dembele was one of the names shortlisted and has been a revelation in his six seasons at the club.

However, despite another successful season in north London, the former Fulham midfielder is likely to put an end to his love affair with the Lilywhites.

Dembele’s current deal expires in 12 months and, after starting just 21 of 38 League games, he may be considering other options for the final years of his career.

Spurs fans reacted to his agent’s comments, with the majority urging Pochettino to offload the powerhouse midfielder this summer and find a suitable replacement for the Belgium superstar.

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