The return to fitness of Younes Kaboul is good news for Tottenham but adds to Andre Villas-Boas’ problems as he tries to resolve his selection conundrum in central defence. HotspurHQ’s newest contributor, Charlie Bee, gives his thoughts on the difficulties facing the Spurs’ coach and suggests a possible solution for next season.Article written by a new writer to HotspurHQ blog: Charlie Bee
Having rejected two (Russian) deadline day loan offers from millionaires Anzi Makhachkala for returning centre back Younes Kaboul, it’s clear the powerful Frenchman is still in AVB’s plans heading into the final leg of the season. With Tottenham currently competing for a Champions League place as well as Europa League success every player we have is of great value, fitness wise, but Kaboul only adds to a packed list of centre backs, which whilst not a bad thing is sure to cause AVB a headache for each game.
It will take time for Kaboul to regain full fitness but his return certainly raises questions on the role of William Gallas at the club. He will now seemingly fall into the 5th placed central defender – a player whose contract expires at the end of the year, with AVB publicly stating he looks to build a team around a core of 4 main defenders. Gallas being the oldest, and let’s face it, the one who offers the least to our defensive set up is surely looking at his final season with us. The Frenchman will always be remembered for his experience and cool head in big games like the 3-2 victory at Arsenal two seasons ago, but his pace, a key component in a high line formation, is somewhat substandard as you’d expect from a player of his age. I’m sure that Levy is aware that to keep on a player of his age and fitness for another year doesn’t seem to be a likely option.
Yet what Gallas does have in abundance is experience, something young Steven Caulker is yet to acquire. At just 21 he should be playing regular football but it can’t be guaranteed at White Hart Lane with Kaboul, Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson all, currently better players then him. A loan move next season to mould him into a solid first choice centre back is a viable option and could therefore see Gallas stay on for another year as the 4th choice defender, as happened when Caulker played at Swansea. Whatever happens he needs game time so as to ensure that he fulfills his potential and given the wave of Spurs youngsters such as Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Adam Smith and Andros Townsend all getting regular game time at their respective loan clubs, Caulker will be looking on in despair. Although he did start at West Ham due to his aerial presence, the occasional game is not good enough for the England U-21 international.However, even with some rock solid defensive performances so far this season and currently sporting the captain’s armband, Michael Dawson could just as easily be the next defender to be replaced. Despite speculation at the beginning of the season linking him with a move to QPR, the big man fought his way back into the side, yet he still doesn’t fit the conventional mould of an AVB defender capable of fulfilling his role in a high line formation. A fully fit Kaboul would be expected to start alongside Vertonghen in the centre back position, ahead of Dawson, a player who at such a delicate stage of his career wouldn’t relish a return to the bench.
The Tottenham defensive conundrum is a headache that I’d much rather have AVB dealing with than myself, and whilst it may look obvious to simply get shot of Gallas the experience that could be gained for Caulker by sending him out on loan to another Premier League club surely outweighs the benefits of occasional starts in our line up. Vertonghen is an ever present in the Tottenham back line as warranted by his solid performances of late, yet Michael Dawson heading into his thirties could just as easily be replaced by AVB for a much younger defender elsewhere.
Over To You
Which central defender would you expect to leave Tottenham in the summer?