Inside Lane: Sandro is just as important as Modric to Spurs
Tottenham fan Daniel Grigg urges the Lilywhites to keep all of their midfield stars, even if it hampers the desperate search for a striker
I have been interested to read Martin Jol’s comments about Tottenham over the past week, and particularly his warning that Spurs must stop being a ‘selling club’.
“In Holland, it is a compliment but in England it is not,” said the Dutchman. “If Spurs can keep [Luka] Modric it would be a big difference and give a good start if they want to be champions or in the top four.”
Modric’s future is, of course, the big story at White Hart Lane so far this summer – and the big question is, what direction will Spurs take in this transfer window, and where will that lead?
Are Spurs still a club where success is followed by the selling of star names, and where buying young talented players and selling them for a profit is the limit or their ambition? Hopefully not.
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It is hardly a new idea to state that keeping Modric and Gareth Bale will be a big statement in that regard, confirming that Tottenham are heading in the right direction – but retaining Sandro’s services is just as important.
While the Brazilian took his time to settle into English football last season, most Spurs fans now regard him as the most promising defensive midfielder at the club.
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He, rather than West Ham’s Scott Parker, seems the man best suited to anchoring the midfield in the coming years - and it’s in midfield where, naturally, most of the rumours of player departures are focused, as it’s there and there alone that Spurs have a selection of players who actually look capable of winning a Premier League title.
Some, like Modric and Sandro, are capable of playing for Champions League clubs, while others like Wilson Palacios and Jermaine Jenas now look incapable of even challenging for a regular first-team spot - having been key players during Harry Redknapp’s early days in north London.
Those who saw Spurs play towards the end of last season will be astounded, and amused, to read reports that Sandro and Palacios have been given the same �12million fee.
While Sandro’s defensive strength and presence in attack show every prospect of continued improvement, the energy that once made Palacios’ play so effective seems to have been replaced by reckless challenges and below-average ability on the ball.
In truth, one could argue that Spurs have outgrown the need for a player as destructive and unpredictable as Palacios, although his initial impact after his arrival from Wigan was a key factor in the team’s rapid revival.
And yet, Tottenham cannot afford to dismantle other parts of the mechanism which have been working so well.
The idea that has been mooted in some newspapers is a swap deal with Roma, which could see Sandro heading to Italy and striker Mirko Vucinic coming to Spurs.
Of course, the vast majority of the rumours flying around this summer have precious little truth behind them, and fans should probably not take these reports too seriously.
However, there is a valid issue here – the lengths that Spurs may consider going to to sign at least one striker, and preferably two, before September.
Chelsea are sure to tempt the Lilywhites into selling Modric with a player-plus-cash deal involving Didier Dorgba, Nicolas Anelka, Daniel Sturridge or even a combination of the three – but Tottenham must resist. They cannot afford to weaken the midfield to strengthen the front line.
There are enough good players in the squad already, so this summer has to be about signings that are either vitally necessary, or introducing special players to the club.
That criteria should rule out Gary Cahill, who has been given a ridiculously inflated �17m value - because he fits into neither of those categories.
The fee appears to have scared off a number of possible suitors already, and hopefully Spurs will join that group.
They can afford to sign Cahill, but that doesn’t mean they should - a lesson that Daniel Levy has arguably learnt a lot quicker than Redknapp.
The Spurs boss already has two eminently capable defenders in Sebastian Bassong and Younes Kaboul, who both spent much of the last campaign on the bench, despite Ledley King’s absence.
As always, Spurs will have a large role to play in this summer’s transfer window. What remains to be seen is whether the decisions they make now give them the opportunity to play an equally large role in the race for the top four, and even the Premier League title, next season.